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H3i0grap{jtcal  anfc  Critical  Entrotmction 
anti  33ibh'0jjvap!)i'cal 


W.    H.    KEARLEY    WRIGHT,    F.R,HiST,Soc, 









W  I  L  L  I  A  M, 











LIFE  OF  GAY,  WITH  NOTICES  OF  HIS  WORKS  .       ,    11 


I.— To  Us  Highness  William,  Duke  of  Cum  berland—Tim 

LION,  THE  TIGER,  AND  THE  TRAVELLER    .       .    59 



III.— THE  MOTHER,  THE  NURSE.  AND  THE  FAIRY    .       .    66 



VII.— THE  LION,  THE  Fox,  AND  THE  GEESE.       ...    77 



XT.— THE  PEACOCK,  THE  TURKEY,  AND  THE  GOOSE.       .    89 



XIV.— THE  MONKEY  WHO  HAD  SEEN  THE  WORLD     .       .    97 
XV.— THE  PHILOSOPHER  AND  THE  PHEASANTS.       .       .  100 




Fable  Page 




XX.— THE  OLD  HEN  AND  THE  COCK    .       .       .       .114 

XXI.— THE  RATCATCHER  AND  CATS      .       .       .       .117 

XXII.— THE  GOAT  WIHOUT  A  BEARD     ....    120 

XXIII.— THE  OLD  WOMAN  AND  HER  CATS     .       .       .123 

XXIV.— THE  BUTTERFLY  AND  THE  SNAIL      .       .       .126 

XXV. — THE  SCOLD  AND  THE  PARROT     ....    129 

XXVI.— THE  CUR  AND  THE  MASTIFF      .      .      .       .132 

XXVII.— THE  SICK  MAN  AND  THE  ANGEL       ...    134 

XXVIII.— THE  PERSIAN,  THE  SUN,  AND  THE  CLOUD       .    137 

XXIX— THE  Fox  AT  THE  POINT  OF  DEATH    .       .       .140 

XXX.— THE  SETTING  DOG  AND  THE  PARTRIDGE  .       .    143 

XXXI.— THE  UNIVERSAL  APPARITION     .       .       .       .146 

XXXII.— THE  Two  OWLS  AND  THE  SPARROW  .       .       .149 

XXXIII.— THE  COURTIER  AND  PROTEUS    .      .      .      .152 


XXXV.— THE  BARLEY-MOW  AND  THE  DUNGHILL  .       .    158 

XXXVI.— PYTHAGORAS  AND  THE  COUNTRYMAN      .       .    160 

XXXVII.— THE  FARMER'S  WIFE  AND  THE  RAVEN     .       .    163 

XXXVIII.— THE  TURKEY  AND  THE  ANT       .       .       .       .166 

XXXIX.— THE  FATHER  AND  JUPITER        ....    168 

XL.— THE  Two  MONKEYS 171 

XLI.— THE  OWL  AND  THE  FARMER       .       .       .       .174 



XLIV.— THE  HOUND  AND  THE  HUNTSMAN     .       .       .183 


DOG  .  .    187 


Fable  Page 


XLVIIT.— THE  GARDENER  AND  THE  HOG      .       .       .       .192 


L.— THE  HARE  AND  MANY  FRIENDS    .  .    198 

I.— THE  DOG  AND  THE  Fox.    To  a  Lawyer      .       .       .203 


To  a  Friend  in  the  Country    .....    208 

III.— THE  BABOON  AND  THE  POULTRY.     To  a  Levee- 
Hunter      .       .       .       .213 

IV.— THE  ANT  IN  OFFICE.    To  a  Friend     .       .       .       .218 

V.— THE  BEAR  IN  A  BOAT.    To  a  Coxcomb      ...    221 

VI.— THE  SQUIRE  AND  HIS  CUR.  To  a  Country  Gentleman    229 

VII. — THE  COUNTRYMAN  AND  JUPITER.    To  Myself  .       .    236 


my  Native  Country 242 


Modern  Politician 248 

X.— THE  DEGENERATE  BEES.    To  the  Rev.  Dr.  Swift, 

Dean  of  St.  Patrick's 253 


Nobleman 257 

XII.— PAN  AND  FORTUNE.  To  a  Young  Heir        .       .       .261 



Ass,  AND  THE  FARMER.    To  a  Mother       .       .    273 


a  poor  Man 279 


To  Laura 284 

XVII.— SUPPLEMENTARY  FABLE,  AY  AND  No       .       .       .290 









COMPARATIVELY  few  words  are  necessary  to  introduce  this 
volume  to  the  public  through  the  medium  of  the  Chandos 
Classics,  The  popularity  of  these  "Fables"  has  been 
proved  by  the  numerous  editions  which  have  appeared 
from  time  to  time  in  this  and  other  countries. 

Apart  from  the  "Fables"  themselves,  this  volume 
contains  a  fuller  biographical  notice  than  has  previously 
been  issued,  in  which  the  writer  has  taken  advantage  of 
many  interesting  facts  which  have  recently  come  to  light 
in  connection  with  Gay's  life  and  works;  he  has  in- 
corporated in  the  sketch  some  valuable  and  interesting 
statements  made  at  Barnstaple,  on  the  occasion  of  the 
bi-centenary  of  Gay's  birth  in  that  town.  Also  for  the 
first  time  in  any  complete  biography,  a  correct  statement 
appears  as  to  the  date  of  the  poet's  birth,  previous  writers 
having  accepted  an  erroneous  statement  on  this  point. 
One  other  important  feature  of  this  work  is  the  Biblio- 
graphical Appendix,  which  contains,  as  far  as  possible, 
a  record  of  all  the  editions  of  the  fables  known.  That 
it  may  be  incomplete  is  quite  within  the  bounds  of  proba- 
bility, as  new  editions  are  being  frequently  brought  under 
the  writer's  notice.  But  the  list  here  given  includes  all  the 
entries  in  the  British  Museum  printed  catalogue,  and 
many  others,  copies  of  which  the  British  Museum  does  not 
appear  to  possess,  but  which  are  in  the  writer's  own 
collection.  In  connection  with  the  Bibliography,  the 


writer  is  indebted  to  the  kind  assistance  of  Dr.  K. 
Garnett,  of  the  British  Museum  ;  Dr.  T.  K  Brushfield,  of 
Budleigh  Salterton  ;  the  Eev.  J.  Ingle  Dredge,  of  Buck- 
land  Brewer ;  to  Mr.  Austin  Dobson,  editor  of  the  latest 
edition  of  the  "Fables";  and  to  several  of  the  leading 
publishers  with  whom  he  has  been  in  communication.  On 
biographical  matters  some  valuable  hints  have  been 
received  from  Mr.  J.  R  Chanter,  of  Barnstaple,  who  was 
one  of  the  chief  promoters  of  the  "  Gay  Bicentennial " 
at  Barnstaple,  in  1885.  In  the  preparation  of  the 
biography  many  authorities  have  been  consulted,  and  the 
opinions  of  various  writers  given  upon  Gay's  works  in 

In  conclusion  we  have  not  introduced  here  an  essay  on 
Fable,  for  the  simple  reason  that  this  and  many  other 
points  will  be  found  amply  treated  in  the  Life  and 
notices  of  the  Works  of  our  author. 

W.  H.  K.  WRIGHT. 

Plymouth,  July,  1889. 




THE  materials  for  a  biography  of  John  Gay  are  not  very 
abundant,  and,  what  little  there  was,  has  been  for  the 
most  part  included  in  the  various  memoirs  which  have  from 
time  to  time  been  published  with  his  works.  Amongst 
the  most  noticeable  sketches  of  the  life  of  Gay  may  be 
mentioned  that  by  E.  Curl,  published  in  1733,  the  year 
after  the  poet's  death  ;  another,  by  the  Rev.  William 
Coxe,  published  at  Salisbury  in  1796,  as  an  introduction  to 
the  "  Fables,"  and  several  times  re-published ;  Dr.  John- 
son's "Life  of  Gay,"  included  in  "Lives  of  the  Poets," 
which  has  been  frequently  published  with  the  author's  col- 
lected works  as  well  as  in  connection  with  the  '  Fables." 

Another  biography,  having  the  stamp  of  family  authority, 
appeared  in  1820,  in  the  little  work  called  "  Gay's  Chair." 
This  was  written  by  the  Rev.  Joseph  Bailer,  the  poet's 

In  previous  editions  of  these  "Fables,"  issued  by  the 
present  publishers,  appeared  a  short  memoir  by  the  Rev. 
Octavius  Freire  Owen;  another  memoir  is  attached  to 
the  edition  of  the  "  British  Poets,"  edited  by  the 
Rev.  George  Gillfillan ;  some  critical  notes  appear 
in  Thackeray's  "English  Humorists,"  and  the  latest 
memoir — that  by  Austin  Dobson — appeared  as  late 
as  1882. 

The  latter  writer  begins  his  memoir  with  the  statement 
that  "  No  material  addition,  in  the  way  of  supplementary 
information,  can  now  be  made  to  the  frequently  reprinted 
*  Life  of  Gay,'  in  Johnson's  '  Poets,'  or  to  the  genial  and 
kindly  sketch  in  Thackeray's  'English  Humorists.'  " 

Recent  investigations  have,  however,  brought  to  light 
some  further  particulars,  which  we  shall  endeavour  to  in- 
corporate with  this,  the  latest  effort  to  furnish  a  true  and 
reliable  biography  of  the  talented  author  of  the  "  Fables." 

In  the  first  place  all  his  biographers,  from  Curl  to 

12  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

Dobson,  erroneously  state  that  Gay  was  born  in  1688, 
instead  of  1685.  It  was  left  to  some  enthusiastic  natives 
of  Barnstaple  to  correct  this  error,  which  they  did  by 
bringing  to  light  the  entry  of  his  baptism  in  the  parish 
register  of  the  old  church  of  that  town.  From  this  it 
appears  that  he  was  baptized  at  Barnstaple  on  the  16th  of 
September,  1685.  This  discovery  was  made  public  at  the 
celebration  of  the  bicentenary  of  the  poet's  birth  at  Barn- 
staple,  in  1885,  when  an  interesting  ceremony  took  place 
in  that  town. 

As  to  the  place  of  the  poet's  birth,  considerable  doubt 
has  existed,  and  still  exists  in  the  minds  of  some. 
Although  the  people  of  Barnstaple  claim  Gay  as  a  native 
of  that  town,  because  of  the  entry  in  the  parish  register, 
yet  there  is  no  proof  that  he  was  not  born  at  some  village 
or  homestead  not  far  distant,  and  brought  into  the  town 
to  be  baptized.  One  writer  says  he  was  born  at  Exeter, 
another  specifies  Torrington,  a  third  names  Frithelstock, 
others  cite  Barnstaple ;  while  the  latest  theory  is  that  he 
was  born  in  the  parish  of  Landkey  (Newlands),  near 
Barnstaple.  This  theory  is  founded  upon  some  lines 
which  appear  in  one  of  Gay's  poems,  entitled  "A  Devon 
shire  Hill,"  first  published  in  the  little  work  already 
mentioned  "  Gay's  Chair."  These  lines  are  as  follows  : — 

"  But  the  hill  of  all  hills,  the  most  pleasing  to  me, 
Is  famed  Cotton,*  the  pride  of  North  Devon; 
When  its  summit  I  climb,  0,  I  then  seem  to  be 

Just  as  if  I  approached  nearer  heaven  ! 
When  with  troubles  depress' d  to  this  hill  I  repair, 

My  spirits  then  instantly  rally  ; 
It  was  near  this  bless'd  spot,  I  first  drew  vital  air, 
So— a  hill  I  prefer  to  a  valley." 

Gay,  it  appears,  sprang  from  a  very  old  and  influential 
family,  several  generations  of  whom  had  resided  at  Golds- 
worthy,  in  Parkham,  Devon,  while  from  the  latter  part 
of  the  sixteenth  century,  until  the  early  portion  of  the 
present  century,  the  Gays  were  located  at  Frithelstock. 
Gay  was  the  youngest  of  five  children.  His  mother  died 
94,  when  the  lad  was  about  eight  years  old.  In  the 

1  Cotton  Hill,  near  Barnstaple. 

LIFE    OF    JOHN     GAY.  13 

following  year  he  lost  his  father,  when  it  appears  that  an 
uncle,  Thomas,  who  resided  at  Barnstaple,  undertook  the 
education  of  the  orphans. 

It  does  not  appear  that  the  Gays  were  ill  provided  for ; 
in  fact,  it  would  seem  that  their  pecuniary  circumstances 
were  moderately  good.  The  house  in  Joy  Street,  at  the 
end  of  High  Street,  called  the  Eed  Cross,  belonged  to  the 
Gay  family,  and  presumably  to  the  poet's  father.  The 
poet  being  the  younger  son,  was,  in  accordance  with 
a  frequent  practice  of  that  time,  apprenticed  to  a 
mercer  in  London.  John  Gay  was  educated  at  the 
Grammar  School,  Barnstaple,  becoming  a  pupil  of  Mr. 
Rayner,  then  head  master,  but  this  gentleman  shortly  after 
removing  to  Tiverton,  his  place  was  supplied  by  Mr. 
Robert  Luck,  under  whose  tuition  Gay  continued  some 
time  and  made  considerable  progress. 

It  is  more  than  probable  that  Gay  first  exhibited  his 
fondness  for  literary  pursuits  while  at  this  school,  and  in 
fact  a  gentleman  who  had  been  Gay's  schoolfellow,  stated 
that  his  first  poetical  effort  was  in  consequence  of  one  of 
his  playmates  shooting  a  swallow  in  Barnstaple  churchyard. 

It  appears  also  that  Mr.  Luck's  pupils  were  in  the  habit 
of  performing  plays  at  stated  seasons,  and  that  copies  of 
verses  are  still  extant  (some  of  them  in  Latin),  which 
were  recited  on  these  occasions,  with  prologues  and 
epilogues  that  were  spoken  by  the  scholars ;  but  whether 
young  Gay  was  the  author  of  any  of  these,  or  ever 
exhibited  his  talent  in  this  way  is  not  known.  Mr.  Luck 
(Gay's  schoolmaster)  was  himself  a  considerable  versifier, 
and  published  a  volume  of  poems  in  1736.  In  the 
preface  to  this  volume  the  author  says  :  "  This  Candour  I 
shall  hope,  because  I  have  endeavour'd  to  deserve  it,  from 
those  gentlemen,  whom  I  have  had  the  honour  to  educate. 
They  ought  (I  think)  to  read  my  performances  as 
favourably  as  I  examin'd  theirs.  One  of  that  number, 
now  a  great,  and  (what  is  more  valuable)  a  very  good  man, 
will  forgive  the  liberty  I  take  to  print  his  Translation  of 
the  15th  Ode  of  Hor.  Epod.  done  by  him  when  young 
under  my  care.  I  read  it  then  with  too  much  pleasure 
ever  to  forget  it.  ?Tis  to  gratify  his  modesty  I  conceal 

14  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

his  name."  Although  there  is  no  actual  evidence  to 
prove  that  the  master  was  referring  to  Gay,  his  old 
pupil,  yet  the  suggestion  to  the  mind  is  very  strong, 
the  only  objection  being  that  whereas  Gay  died  in  1732, 
Mr.  Luck's  book  did  net  appear  until  1736,  and  it  is  only 
natural  to  suppose  that  the  master  would  have  made  some 
more  distinct  reference  to  the  pupil  who  had  by  that  time 
won  all  his  literary  laurels.  It  is  singular  to  note  that 
the  only  actual  reference  to  Gay  to  be  found  in  Mr.  Luck's 
book,  occurs  in  "The  Female  Phaeton,"  addressed  to  the 
Duke  of  Queensberry  and  Dover — Gay's  great  patron. 

"  0  Queensberry  !  cou'd  happy  Gay 

This  off'ring  to  thee  bring, 
Tis  his,  my  lord  (he'd,  smiling,  say), 
Who  taught  your  Gay  to  sing." 

A  very  interesting  relic  of  Gay's  school  days  has  recently 
come  to  light.  The  ancient  oak  fittings  of  some  of  the 
original  pews  of  the  old  church  at  Barnstaple,  having  been 
found  hidden  under  some  modern  surface  of  thin  deal 
or  cloth,  one  of  these  was  found  defaced  by  names  cut 
over  it.  These  boards  were  mostly  broken  up  in  getting 
out,  but  one  piece,  which  had  two  names  and  a  date,  1695, 
was  preserved,  and  is  as  follows  : — 

The  above  is  a  facsimile  taken  from  a  rubbing  of  the 
identical  fragment  now  preserved  in  the  Barnstaple 
Athenaeum,  There  is  no  reason  to  doubt  that  this  John 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  15 

Gay  was  the  poet,  and  if  the  date  refers  to  him,  he 
would  then  have  been  ten  years  old — the  age  when  boys 
generally  do  such  things.  The  pew  may  have  been  the 
seat  of  grammar  school  boys,  on  which  they  amused  them- 
selves during  the  sermon  by  cutting  their  names. 

Gay  was  certainly  a  true  student,  and  well  grounded  in 
the  classics  ;  and  Mr.  Austin  Dobson  observes  on  this  point 
that  there  is  still  preserved  in  the  "  Forster  Library,"  at 
South  Kensington,  a  large  paper  copy  of  Maittaire's 
"Horace"  (Tonson  and  Watts,  1715),  which  contains 
Gay's  autograph,  and  is  copiously  annotated  in  his  beauti- 
ful handwriting.  "  This  of  itself,"  says  Mr.  Dobson, 
"should  be  sufficient  to  refute  the  aspersions  cast  upon 
his  scholarship  by  a  recent  critic  of  Swift ;  for  it  affords 
certain  evidence  that,  even  at  twenty-seven — and  perhaps 
at  a  much  later  period — he  wras  a  diligent  student  of  the 
charming  lyrist  and  satirist,  who,  above  all  others,  com- 
mends himself  to  the  attention  of  idle  men." 

Gay  was  sent  to  London,  and  bound  apprentice  to  a 
mercer;  but  a  shop  confinement,  the  chatter  of  women 
customers,  and  lying,  in  a  double  sense,  behind  the 
compter,  were  fatigues  he  could  not  by  any  means  brook, 
and  he  writes  thus  in  a  complaint  to  his  friend  Mr.  Pope  ; — 

"Long  in  the  noisy  Town  I've  been  immur'd, 
Respir'd  in  Smoke,  and  all  its  cares  endur'd  ; 
Where  News  and  Politicks  divide  Mankind, 
And  Schemes  of  State  involve  th'  nneasy  mind  ; 
Faction  embroils  the  World,  and  ev'ry  Tongue 
Is  moved  by  Flatt'ry,  or  with  Scandal  hung. 
Friendship,  for  Sylvan  Shades,  the  Palace  flies, 
Where  all  must  yield  to  Int 'rest's  dearer  ties  ; 
Each  rival  Machiavel  with  Envy  burns, 
And  Honesty  forsakes  them  all  by  turns  ; 
While  Calumny  upon  each  Party's  thrown, 
Which  both  promote,  and  both  alike  disown. 
Fatigu'd  at  last :  a  calm  Retreat  I  chose, 
And  sooth'd  my  harrass'd  Mind  with  s\veet  Repose  ; 
Where  Fields,  and  Shades,  and  the  refreshing  Clime, 
Inspire  the  Sylvan  Song  and  prompt  my  Rhlme."1 

Whatever  may  have  been  the  cause,  Gay  suffered  from 
the  unwonted  confinement  to  which  he  was  subjected  in 

l  Rural  Sports :  a  Georgic.    Address  to  Mr.  Pope. 

16  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

London,  and  was  compelled  to  give  up  his  situation  and 
return  to  Devonshire,  where  his  native  air  soon  recruited 
his  powers.  He  stayed  awhile  at  the  house  of  his  uncle, 
his  mother's  brother,  Kev.  John  Hanmer,  the  Noncom- 
formist  minister  of  the  town.  After  a  few  months'  resi- 
dence in  the  hospitable  home  of  his  uncle,  his  health  being 
restored,  he  returned  again  to  London.  This  was,  it 
appears,  his  last  visit  to  Barnstaple,  though  not  to  Devon- 

Gay's  natural  genius  for  poetry  soon  developed  itself, 
as  he  does  not  appear  to  have  at  first  sought  or  obtained 
any  regular  employment,  but  lived  for  the  most  part  as  a 
private  gentleman,  and  thus  he  had  plenty  of  time  to 
follow  the  bent  of  his  inclinations. 

As  far  as  can  be  ascertained,  his  earliest  published 
poem  was  entitled  "Wine,"  this  being  produced  in  1708. 
It  is  to  be  found  in  an  edition  of  Gay's  poetical  works, 
published  in  Edinburgh  in  1777,  and,  we  believe,  this  was 
its  first  appearance  in  any  collected  edition,  for  it  was  not 
included  in  the  celebrated  quarto  edition  of  1720.  Ap- 
pended to  the  poem  is  the  following  note :  "  In  a  letter 
from  Aaron  Hill  to  Mr.  Savage,  published  in  the  former's 
works,  Vol.  I.,  339,  speaking  of  Mr.  Gay,  he  has  these 
words,  '  That  poem  you  speak  of,  called  Wine,  he 
printed  in  the  year  1710,  as  I  remember.  I  am  sure  I 
have  one  amongst  my  pamphlets.  I  will  look  for  it  and 
send  it  to  you,  if  it  will  be  of  use  or  satisfaction  to  any 
gentleman  of  your  acquaintance.' "  This  is  the  piece  Mr. 
Hill  mentions,  and  it  is  here  printed  from  a  copy  of  the 
original  edition. 

In  1712,  Gay  was  appointed  secretary  to  the  Duchess 
of  Monmouth,1  and  this  post  gave  him,  we  presume,  a 
sufficient  emolument  and  the  coveted  leisure  for  the  con- 
tinuance of  his  literary  pursuits.  He  soon  became  well 
known  to  the  leading  literary  men  of  the  time,  and  formed 
the  acquaintance  of  several  great  men,  as  well  as  of  the 
most  eminent  wits  and  poets  of  the  age,  such  as  Addison, 

1  Lafly  Mary  Scot,  daughter  and  heiress  of  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch- 
•widow  of  the  unfortunate  Duke  of  Monmouth,  natural  son  of  Charles  II, 
who  was  beheaded  in  the  reign  of  James  II. 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  17 

Sir  Richard  Steele,  Dean  Purcell,  Pope,  Swift,  and 

In  1712  he  contributed  a  translation  of  one  of  Ovid's 
"  Metamorphoses,"  first  published  in  the  famous  "Rape  of 
the  Lock  ''  volume  of  Lintot's  "  Miscellaneous  Poems  and 
Translations,"  and  afterwards  incorporated  in  Garth's 
Ovid — the  noble  folio  volume,  published  by  Tonson  in 
1727.  Gay's  production  will  be  found  in  Book  ix.  of 
this  edition. 

Having  made  the  acquaintance  of  Pope,  he  dedicated 
to  him  his  *'  Rural  Sports :  a  Georgic,"  a  few  lines  of 
which  have  been  already  quoted.  This  was  first  published 
in  1713.  Pope  was  evidently  well  pleased  with  this 
attention  on  the  part  of  the  aspiring  poet,  and  from  this 
time  the  two  men  contracted  a  close  friendship,  which 
lasted  till  death. 

Gay  evinced,  in  "Rural  Sports,"  a  considerable  know- 
ledge of  country  life,  and  gave  a  very  accurate  description 
of  those  manly  sports  and  exercises  which  were  then  very 
much  in  vogue,  and  in  which  it  may  be  inferred  he  him- 
self was  skilled.  His  advice  to  the  disciples  of  Walton  is 
a  case  in  point : — 

"  You  must  not  every  worm  promiscuous  use : 
Judgment  will  tell  thee  proper  bait  to  choose : 
The  worm  that  draws  a  long  immoderate  size 
The  trout  abhors,  and  the  rank  morsel  flies  ; 
And  if  too  small,  the  naked  fraud's  in  sight, 
And  fear  forbids,  while  hunger  does  invite. 
Those  baits  will  best  reward  the  fisher's  pains 
Whose  polish'd  tails  a  shining  yellow  stains ; 
Cleanse  them  from  filth,  to  give  a  tempting  gloss, 
Cherish  the  sullied  reptile  race  with  moss  ; 
Amid  the  verdant  bed  they  thrive,  they  toil, 
And  from  their  bodies  wipe  their  native  soil. " 

Besides  this,  his  descriptions  of  country  scenes  are  full 
of  poetry  and  a  thorough  appreciation  of  the  beauties  of 

This  work  was  quickly  followed  by  another,  "The 
Mohocks :  A  Tragi-Comical  Farce,"  which,  according  to 
the  title-page,  was  to  have  been  acted  near  the  Watch 
House  in  Covent  Garden.  Although  published  in  1712, 
it  was  never  put  upon  the  stage.  The  subject  of  the 


18  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

piece^  was  an  exposition  of  the  doings  of  a  set  of  mis- 
chievous young  men,  who  were  distinguished  by  the  title 
"  Mohocks."1 

These  miscreants,  on  the  presumption  of  their  being 
protected  by  rank  or  fortune  from  punishment  for  their 
errors,  used  to  maltreat  every  inoffensive  person  whom 
they  met  abroad,  under  the  idea  of  frolic. 

These  prowlers  were  thus  referred  to  by  Gay  in  another 
of  his  works,  "Trivia,"  Book  III.:— 

"  Now  is  the  Time  that  Rakes  their  Revells  keep; 
Kindlers  of  Riot,  Enemies  of  Sleep. 
His  scatter'd  Pence  the  flying  Nicker*  flings. 
And  with  the  Copper  Show'rs  the  casement  rings, 
Who  has  not  heard  the  Scowrer's  Midnight  Fame  ? 
Who  has  not  trembled  at  the  Mohock's  name  ? 
Was  there  a  Watchman  took  his  hourly  Rounds, 
Safe  from  their  Blows,  or  new-invented  Wounds  ? 
I  pass  their  desp'rate  Deeds,  and  Mischiefs  done 
Where  from  Snow-hill  black  sleepy  Torrents  run  ; 
How  Matrons,  hoop'd  within  the  Hogshead's  Womb, 
Were  tumbled  furious  thence,  the  rolling  Tomb 
O'er  the  Stones  thunders,  bounds  from  Side  to  Side, 
So  Reguius  to  save  his  Country  dy'd. " 

Gay's  poem,  u  The  Fan,"  in  three  books,  was  probably 
published  in  the  early  part  of  the  year  1713,  for  Pope,  in 
a  letter  dated  August  23rd  of  that  year,  says,  "I  am 
very  much  recreated  and  refreshed  with  the  news  of 
the  advancement  of  '  The  Fan,'  which  I  doubt  not  will 
delight  the  eye  and  sense  of  the  fair,  so  long  as  that  agree- 
able machine  shall  play  in  the  hands  of  posterity.  I  am 
glad  your  '  Fan '  is  mounted  so  soon,  but  I  would  have 
you  varnish  and  glaze  it  at  your  leisure,  and  polish  the 
sticks  as  much  as  you  can.  You  may  then  cause  it  to  be 
borne  in  the  hands  of  both  sexes,  no  less  in  England 
than  in  China,  where  it  is  ordinary  for  a  mandarin  to 
fan  himself  cool  after  a  debate,  and  a  statesman  to  hide 
his  face  with  it  while  he  tells  a  grave  lie." 

Gay's  first  attempt  at  dramatic  writing  was  in  "The 

1  Mohock.  A  class  of  ruffian  who  at  one  time  infested  the  streets  of 
London.  So  called  from  the  Indian  Mohawks.  One  of  their  "  new  inven- 
tions" was  to  roll  persons  down  Snow  Hill  in  a  tub ;  another  was  to  over- 
turn coaches  on  rubbish  heaps. 

2  Gentlemen,  who  delighted  to  break  windows  with  half-pence. 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  19 

Wife  of  Bath,"  first  acted  at  the  Theatre  Koyal,  Drury 
Lane,  in  1713.  Although  it  proved  a  failure,  he  was  not 
discouraged  by  his  want  of  success,  but  steadily  pursued 
the  course  which  he  had  mapped  out  for  himself,  and 
wherein  he  afterwards  gained  so  much  fame.  This  piece 
was  altered  and  revised  by  the  author  in  1730,  and  again 
put  upon  the  stage,  but  with  no  better  success ;  in  fact,  it 
received  worse  treatment  from  the  audience  than  at  its 
first  production,  notwithstanding  the  author's  reputation 
had  become  considerably  enhanced  by  later  works. 

Gay's  position  of  ease  in  the  household  of  the  Duchess 
of  Monmouth  was,  however,  of  short  duration,  for  in  June 
1714,  we  find  him  writing  to  Swift,  "I  am  quite  off  with 
the  Duchess  of  Monmouth,"  andArbuthnot  informs  Swift, 
"  the  Duchess  has  turned  him  off,  which  I  am  afraid  will 
make  the  poor  man's  condition  worse  instead  of  better," 

But  the  loss  of  one  influential  friend,  was,  in  this  case, 
the  gain  of  others,  for  he  now  came  under  the  notice  of 
two  great  patrons  of  letters,  Oxford  and  Bolingbroke,  who, 
at  the  recommendation  of  Swift  and  Arbuthnot,  extended 
their  favours  to  him  in  a  very  practical  manner.  His 
Pastorals  were  printed  at  the  express  desire  of  Lord 
Bolingbroke,  to  whom  he  had  shown  them  in  manuscript. 
He  himself  refers  to  this  in  his  dedication — 

"  Lo  I,  who  erst  beneath  a  tree 
Sung  Bumkinet  and  Bowzybee, 
And  Blowzelind  and  Marian  hight, 
In  apron  blue  or  apron  white, 
Now  write  my  sonnets  in  a  book, 
For  my  good  Lord  of  Bolingbroke. 
*  *  *  * 

With  whose  fair  name  I'll  deck  my  strain ; 
St.  John  right  courteous  to  the  swain. 
For  thus  he  told  me  on  a  day, 
Trim  are  thy  Sonnets,  gentle  Gay  ! 
And,  certes,  mirth  it  were  to  see 
Thy  joyous  madrigals  twice  three, 
With  preface  meet  and  notes  profound, 
Imprinted  fair,  and  well  y-bound, 
All  suddenly  then  home  I  sped, 
And  did  ev'n  as  my  Lord  had  said. " 

This  work  "The  Shepherd's  Week,"  was  written,  it  is 
supposed,  at  the  suggestion  of  Pope,  who  was  at  the  time 

2 — 2 

20  LIFE    OF    JOHN     GAY. 

engaged  in  a  literary  feud  with  Steele  and  other  writers 
on  the  merits  of  the  pastoral  style  of  poetry.  Steele, 
in  some  papers  contributed  to  the  Guardian,  had  praised 
Ambrose  Philips,  as  the  pastoral  writer  of  his  time. 
Pope,  who  had  himself  published  pastorals,  not  to  be 
outdone,  not  only  drew  up  a  comparison  of  his  own  works 
with  those  of  Philips,  but  incited  Gay  to  write  in  the 
same  strain,  and  to  show,  that  if  it  be  necessary  to  copy 
nature  with  minuteness,  rural  life  must  be  treated  in  the 
same  way,  and  exhibited  in  its  ordinary  every-day  garb  : 
and  with  all  the  grossness  which  is  its  chief  characteristic. 
This  purpose  was  well  carried  out  in  the  "Shepherd's 
Week,"  although  it  was  somewhat  marred  in  its  object  by 
the  Proem,  which  was  written  in  an  obsolete  style  of 
language,  more  akin  to  the  romantic  pastorals  which  it 
was  intended  to  satirize.  However,  these  pastorals  became 
highly  popular,  and  were  read  with  delight  by  many  who 
did  not  care  a  jot  for  the  cause  in  dispute,  but  who 
regarded  them  as  fair  pictures  of  the  rural  life  of  the 

About  this  period  Gay  was  made  secretary  to  the  Earl 
of  Clarendon,  then  ambassador  to  the  Court  of  Hanover, 
a  position  from  which  he  hoped  to  obtain  great  and 
speedy  advancement.  Gay's  circumstances  were  at  this 
time  so  low  that,  having  obtained  the  position,  he  had 
not  the  means  to  furnish  himself  as  became  the  appoint- 
ment. In  this  difficulty  he  addressed  what  he  calls 
"The  Epigrammatical  Petition  of  John  Gay,"  to  Lord 
Oxford,  the  Lord  Treasurer  : — 

"  I'm  no  more  to  converse  with  the  swains, 

But  go  where  fine  people  resort : 
One  can  live  without  money  on  plains, 

But  never  without  it  at  court. 
If,  when  with  the  swains  I  did  gambol, 

I  array'd  me  in  silver  and  blue  ; 
When  abroad,  and  in  courts,  I  shall  ramble, 

Pray,  my  lord,  how  much  money  will  do  ? " 

Arbuthnot,  in  a  letter  to  Swift,  refers  to  the  same  when 
he  says  : — "  You  know  that  Gay  goes  to  Hanover,  and  my 
Lord  Treasurer  has  promised  to  equip  him.  Monday  is 
the  day  of  departure ;  and  he  is  now  dancing  attendance 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  21 

for  money  to  buy  him  shoes,  stockings,  and  linen."  The 
result  of  this  appeal  was  the  receipt  of  one  hundred 
pounds  from  the  Treasury,  with  which  Gay  went  away 
happy,  in  the  brighter  prospects  which  seemed  to  be  dawn- 
ing upon  him,  One  of  his  letters  from  Hanover,  to  his 
friend  Swift,  dated  August  the  16th,  1714,  is  full  of 
characteristic  passages,  "  You  remember,  I  suppose,"  he 
says,  "  that  I  was  to  write  you  abundance  of  letters  from 
Hanover ;  but  as  one  of  the  most  distinguishing  qualities 
of  a  politician  is  secrecy,  you  must  not  expect  from  me 
any  arcanas  of  State,  There  is  another  thing  that  is 
necessary  to  establish  the  character  of  a  politician ;  which 
is,  to  seem  always  to  be  full  of  affairs  of  State ;  to  know 
the  consultations  of  the  cabinet  council — when  at  the 
same  time  all  his  politics  are  collected  from  newspapers. 
Which  of  these  two  causes  my  secrecy  is  owing  to,  I  leave 
you  to  determine.  There  is  yet  one  thing  more,  that  is 
extremely  necessary  for  a  foreign  minister,  which  he  can 
no  more  be  without  than  an  artizan  without  his  terms ;  I 
mean,  the  terms  of  his  art.  I  call  it  an  art  or  science, 
because  I  think  the  King  of  France  hath  established  an 
academy  to  instruct  the  young  Machiavellians  of  his 
country  in  the  deep  and  profound  science  of  politics.  To 
the  end  that  I  might  be  qualified  for  an  employment  of 
this  nature,  and  not  only  be  qualified  myself,  but  (to 
speak  in  the  style  of  Sir  John  Falstaff)  be  the  cause  of 
qualifications  in  others.,  I  have  made  it  my  business  to 
read  memoirs,  treaties,  &c.  And  as  a  dictionary  of  law 
terms  is  thought  necessary  for  young  beginners,  so  I 
thought  a  dictionary  of  terms  of  State  would  be  no  less 
useful  for  young  politicians.  The  terms  of  politics  being 
not  so  numerous  as  to  swell  into  a  volume,  especially  in 
time  of  peace  (for  in  time  of  war  all  the  terms  of  fortifica- 
tion are  included),  I  thought  fit  to  extract  them  in  the 
same  manner,  for  the  benefit  of  young  practitioners  as  a 
famous  author  hath  compiled  his  learned  treatise  of  the 
law,  called  the  'Doctor  and  Student.'  I  have  not  made 
any  great  progress  in  this  piece  ;  but,  however,  I  will  just 
give  you  a  specimen  of  it,  which  will  make  you  in  the 
same  manner  a  judge  of  the  design  and  nature  of  this 

22  LIFE  OF  JOHN   GAY. 

treatise."  Then  follows  a  dialogue  between  the  Politician 
and  the  Student,  which  is  full  of  shrewd  suggestions  and 
witty  sayings. 

During  his  short  stay  at  Hanover,  Gay  attracted  the 
notice  of  the  Electoral  Princess,  afterwards  Queen  Caroline, 
who  asked  him  for  a  copy  of  his  poems  ;  but,  alas  !  he  had 
not  one  to  bestow,  which  caused  Arbuthnot  to  remark, 
"  Is  he  not  a  true  poet  who  had  not  one  of  his  books  to 
give  the  Princess,  who  asked  for  one  1 "  Gay  was  again 
disappointed  in  his  hopes  of  preferment,  for  the  death  of 
Queen  Anne  caused  the  withdrawal  of  Lord  Clarendon 
from  the  embassy  at  Hanover,  which  had  only  lasted 
fifteen  days,  and  he  returned  to  London  in  greater  straits 
than  ever.  According  to  Swift,  the  change  in  the  poet's 
fortune  was  chiefly  due  to  the  fact  that  he  had  dedicated 
his  "  Shepherd's  Week  "  to  Bolingbroke,  who  was  not  in 
favour  with  the  new  monarch. 

Gay  was,  however,  equal  to  the  occasion,  and,  acting 
either  upon  his  own  instincts  or  upon  the  promptings  of 
his  friend,  Pope,  he  did  his  best  to  improve  the  occasion 
and  write  himself  in  favour  with  the  Court.  He  accord- 
ingly wrote  a  "  Poetical  Epistle  to  a  Lady,"  occasioned  by 
the  arrival  of  Her  Royal  Highness  (the  Princess  of  Wales), 
in  which  occurs  the  following  plaintive  appeal : — 

"  I  left  the  Muses  to  frequent  the  Court ; 
Pensive  each  night,  from  room  to  room  I  walk'd, 
To  one  I  bow'd,  and  with  another  talk'd  ; 
Enquir'd  what  news,  or  such  a  Lady's  name, 
And  did  the  next  day,  and  the  next  the  same. 
Places  I  found,  were  daily  giv'n  away, 
And  yet  no  friendly  Gazette  mentioned  Gay. 
I  ask'd  a  Friend  what  method  to  pursue  : 
He  cry'd  I  want  a  Place  as  well  as  you. 
Another  ask'd  me,  why  I  had  not  writ ; 
A  Poet  owes  his  Fortune  to  his  Wit. 
Strait  I  reply'd  with  what  a  Courtly  Grace, 
Flows  easy  Verse  from  Him  that  has  a  place  ! 
Had  Virgil  ne'er  at  Court  improv'd  his  Strains, 
He  still  had  sung  of  Flocks  and  homely  Swains  ; 
And  had  not  Horace  sweet  Preferment  found, 
The  Roman  Lyre  had  never  learnt  to  sound." 

"This  seems  to  have  obtained  for  him  some  transient 
favour,  for  both  the  Prince  and  Princess  went  to  see  his 

LIFE    OF    JOHN     GAY.  23 

play  *  What  d'ye  call  it,'  first  acted  at  Dmry  Lane,  in 
1715.  This  ingenious  and  entertaining  little  piece,  which 
is  to  this  day  (1782)  frequently  performed,  is  an  inoffensive 
and  good-natured  burlesque  on  the  absurdities  in  some  of 
the  tragedies  then  most  in  favour ;  particularly  *  Venice 
Preserved/  the  principal  characters  in  which  are  ridiculed 
with  much  humour  and  some  justice,  in  the  parts  of 
Filbert,  Peascod,  and  Kitty  Carrol.  There  is  great 
originality  in  the  manner  of  it,  great  poetry  in  the 
language,  and  true  satire  in  the  conduct  of  it,  on  which 
accounts,  though  it  may  be  '  caviare  to  the  multitude,'  it 
will  ever  be  sure  to  please  the  better  few."1  This 
piece  became  so  popular  that  it  excited  the  eiiv^i 
of  the  playwrights,  and  provoked  a  reply  which  was, 
written  by  Messrs.  Theobald  and  Griffin,  entitled 
"The  Key  to  the  What  d'ye  call  iH"  In  this,  as 
Gay  declared,  he  was  called  a  blockhead,  and  Mr.  Pope 
a  knave. 

His  next  work  "  Trivia  ;  or,  the  Art  of  Walking  the 
Streets  of  London,"  which  appeared  in  1716,  was  of  a 
totally  different  character,  and  gained  him  a  more  solid 
reputation.  On  this  work,  next  to  his  "  Beggar's  Opera  " 
and  "  Fables  "  his  fame  may  be  said  to  rest.  Gay,  in  the 
advertisement  to  the  first  edition,  owned  to  having  received 
several  hints  from  Dr.  Swift.  The  poem  is  a  very 
readable  one,  and  gives  a  very  close  and  accurate 
picture  of  the  street  life  of  London  in  the  early  part  of  the 
last  century,  thus  doing  for  the  city  what  in  his 
"Shepherd's  Week"  he  had  previously  done  for  the 

This  was  speedily  followed  by  another  dramatic  piece, 
entitled  "Three  Hours  after  Marriage."  It  was  the  joint 
production  of  Gay,  Pope,  and  Arbuthnot,  and  was  brought 
out  at  Drury  Lane  in  1717.  It  was,  however,  deservedly 
censured,  and  its  authors  met  with  well-merited  disgrace 
at  the  hands  of  the  public.  It  was  an  effort  to  burlesque 
Dr.  Woodward,  a  geologist  of  estimable  character. 
Although  Gay's  name  appears  alone  on  the  title-page,  it 
does  not  appear  that  he  had  very  much  to  do  with  the 

1  Biographia  Dramatica,  p.  401. 

24  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

work,  the  chief  characters  in  which  were  most  certainly 
the  creations  of  Pope  and  Arbuthnot. 

Shortly  after  this  Gay  wrote  an  Epistle  to  the  Earl  of 
Burlington,  giving  an  account  of  a  journey  to  Exeter, 
whither  he  was  sent  by  his  Lordship.  This  Epistle  has 
many  amusing  incidents,  and  opens  with  Mr.  Pope's 
robbing  the  Earl's  orchard, — 

"  At  Chiswick  strips  all  Boughs  within  his  reach 
The  purple  Vine,  blue  Plumb,  and  blushing  Peach." 

At  Axminster,  a  very  diverting,  adventure  occurs  to  the 
travellers,  which  he  thus  describes  : — 

"  We  climb'd  the  hills,  when  starry  night  arose, 
And  Axminster  affords  a  kind  repose. 
The  maid,  subdued  by  fees,  her  trunk  unlocks, 
And  gives  the  cleanly  aid  of  dowlas  smocks  : 
Meantime  our  shirts  her  busy  fingers  rub, 
While  the  soap  lathers  o'er  the  foaming  tub. 
If  women's  geer  such  pleasing  dreams  incite, 
Lend  us  your  smocks,  ye  damsels  !  every  night. 
We  rise,  our  beards  demand  the  barber's  art ; 
A  female  enters,  and  performs  the  part : 
The  weighty  golden  chain  adorns  her  neck, 
And  three  gold  rings  her  skilful  hand  bedeck  : 
Smooth  o'er  our  chin  her  easy  fingers  move 
Soft  as  when  Venus  strok'd  the  beard  of  Jove." 

This  poem  was  republished  in  the  "  English  Illustrated 
Magazine  "  for  1887,  with  some  very  charming  and  highly 
appropriate  sketches  by  Hugh  Thomson. 

Some  time  during  the  year  1717,  Gay  went  to  Paris, 
as  secretary  to  Mr.  Pulteney,  afterwards  Earl  of  Bath. 
From  hence  he  wrote  a  racy  description  of  the  "Fopperies 
of  that  Nation."  In  this  short  poem,  Gay  draws  a 
beautiful  picture  of  Fenelon's  Telemachus,  and  concludes 
with  a  panegyric  on  England  : — 

"  Hear  all  ye  princes  !  who  the  world  control, 
What  cares,  what  terrors,  haunt  the  tyrant's  soul ; 
His  constant  train  are  anger,  fear,  distrust. 
To  be  a  king  is  to  be  good  and  just ; 
His  people  he  protects,  their  rights  he  saves, 
And  scorns  to  rule  a  wretched  race  of  slaves. 

Happy,  thrice  happy,  shall  the  monarch  reign, 
Where  guardian  laws  despotic  power  restrain  ! 
There  shall  the  ploughshare  break  the  stubborn  land, 
And  bending  harvest  tire  the  peasant's  hand  : 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  25 

There  Liberty  her  settled  mansion  boasts, 
There  Commerce  plenty  brings  from  foreign  coasts. 
O  Britain  !  guard  thy  laws,  thy  rights  defend, 
So  shall  these  blessings  to  thy  sons  descend  !  " 

It  will  be  seen  that  Gay  was  a  Bohemian  by  dis- 
position, never  so  happy  as  when  rambling  about  from 
place  to  place.  Swift  rallies  Gay  on  this  propensity : — 

"If  your  ramble  was  on  horseback,  I  am  glad  of  it, 
upon  account  of  your  health ;  but  I  know  your  arts  of 
patching  up  a  journey  between  stage  coaches  and  friends' 
coaches  :  for  you  are  as  arrant  a  cockney  as  any  hosier  in 
Cheapside.  One  clean  shirt,  with  two  cravats,  and  as 
many  handkerchiefs,  make  up  your  equipage ;  and  as  for 
your  night  gown,  it  is  clear  from  Homer,  that  Agamemnon 
rose  without  one.  I  have  often  had  it  in  my  head  to  put 
it  into  yours,  that  you  ought  to  have  some  great  work  in 
scheme,  which  may  take  up  seven  years  to  finish,  besides 
two  or  three  under  ones,  that  may  add  another  thousand 
pound  to  your  stock ;  and  then  I  shall  be  in  less  pain 
about  you.  I  know  you  can  find  dinners,  but  then  you 
love  twelve-penny  coaches  too  well,  without  considering 
that  the  interest  of  a  whole  thousand  pounds  brings  you 
but  half-a-crown  a  day." 

Gay's  next  venture  was  the  publication  of  his  poems  by 
subscription,  in  two  handsome  quarto  volumes,  in  1720. 
The  nature  and  extent  of  his  popularity  at  this  time  may 
be  gathered  from  the  large  and  influential  list  of  sub- 
scribers which  accompanies  the  work.  The  success  of  his 
enterprise  was  great,  for  the  author  realized  about  £1,000. 
The  Prince  and  Princess  of  Wales  gave  him  very  liberal 
support,  the  Duke  of  Chandos  and  the  Earl  of  Burlington 
each  took  fifty  copies,  and  Mr.  Pulteney  twenty-five. 
Gay  acknowledges  this  substantial  patronage  in  his 
"Epistle  to  Paul  Methuen,  Esq."  :— 

"  Yet  let  me  not  of  grievances  complain, 

Who  (though  the  meanest  of  the  Muse's  train) 
Can  boast  subscriptions  to  my  humble  lays, 
And  mingle  profit  with  my  little  praise." 

Gay  being  thus  master  of  a  large  sum  was  in  doubt  as 
to  the  best  means  for  its  disposal,  so  he  called  a  meeting 

26  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

of  his  frirnds,  and  solicited  their  advice,  although  in  the 
end  he  ignored  all  their  suggestions.  Lewis,  steward  to 
Lord  Oxford,  advised  him  to  trust  it  to  the  Funds,  and 
live  on  the  interest;  Arbuthnot,  to  live  upon  the  prin- 
cipal ;  Pope  and  Swift  to  buy  an  annuity.  But  Gay  was 
touched  by  the  mania  for  speculation  then  rife,  and  pre 
ferred  to  sink  his  money  in  the  great  "  South  Sea  Bubble." 
Gay  had  been  presented  by  a  friend  (Secretary  Craggs) 
with  some  South  Sea  Stock,  and  was  tempted  to  invest 
his  thousand  pounds,  and  to  believe  himself  in  conse- 
quence to  be  master  of  a  fortune  of  some  twenty  thousand 
pounds.  His  friends  endeavoured  to  persuade  him  to  sell 
his  share,  or  at  least  so  much  as  would  enable  him  to 
purchase  an  annuity  for  life  of  a  hundred  a  year,  "which," 
said  Elijah  Fenton,  "will  made  you  sure  of  a  clean  shirt 
and  a  shoulder  of  mutton  every  day."  But  Gay  was 
obdurate;  he  invested  all  his  money,  lost  every  penny, 
and  sunk  so  low  in  consequence  that  for  a  time  both  his 
life  and  reason  were  despaired  of.  However,  his  friends 
rallied  around  him,  Pope  especially,  and  his  health  and 
spirits  were  soon  restored.  In  an  "  Epistle  "  to  Mr.  Thomas 
Snow  he  has  happily  ridiculed  his  own  folly  in  trusting 
to  visionary  schemes,  and  in  disregarding  the  advice  of 
his  more  wordly-wise  friends : — 

"  0  thou  whose  penetrative  wisdom  found 
The  South-Sea  rocks  and  shelves,  where  thousands  drown'd  ; 
When  credit  sunk,  and  commerce  gasping  lay, 
Thou  stood'st,  nor  sent'st  one  bill  unpaid  away. 
When  not  a  guinea  chink'd  on  Martin's  boards, 
And  Atwell's  self  was  drain'd  of  all  his  hoards, 
Thou  stood'st  an  Indian  King  in  size  and  hue  ; 
Thy  unexhausted  shop  was  our  Peru. 
Why  did  Change-Alley  waste  thy  precious  hours 
Among  the  fools  who  gap'd  for  golden  flowers  ? 
No  wonder  if  we  found  some  poets  there, 
Who  live  on  fancy,  and  can  feed  on  air ; 
No  wonder  they  were  caught  by  South-Sea  schemes, 
Who  ne'er  enjoy'd  a  guinea  but  in  dreams  ; 
No  wonder,  that  their  third  subscriptions  sold 
For  millions  of  imaginary  gold  ; 
No  wonder  that  their  fancies  wild  can  frame 
Strange  reasons,  that  a  thing  is  still  the  same, 
Though  chang'd  throughout  in  substance  and  in  name." 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  27 

Gay  next  published  "  Dione :  a  Pastoral  Tragedy," 
which  was  included  by  him  in  his  collected  works  pre- 
viously noted  (1720).  "This,"  says  Dr.  Johnson,  "is  a 
counterpart  of  'Amynta'  and  'Pastor  Fido,'  and  other 
trifles  of  the  kind,  easily  imitated,  and  unworthy  of  imi- 
tation. What  the  Italians  call  comedies,  from  a  happy 
conclusion,  Gay  calls  a  tragedy,  from  a  mournful  event ; 
but  the  style  of  the  Italians  and  of  Gay  is  equally  tragical. 
There  is  something  in  the  poetical  Arcadia  so  remote 
from  known  reality  and  speculative  possibility,  that  we 
can  never  support  its  representation  through  a  long  work. 
A  pastoral  of  a  hundred  lines  may  be  endured ;  but  who 
will  hear  of  sheep  and  goats,  and  myrtle  bowers  and 
purling  rivulets  through  five  acts  ? " 

Several  years  appear  to  have  elapsed  before  Gay  essayed 
any  further  literary  venture,  for  his  next  play,  "The 
Captives,"  did  not  appear  until  1724,  when,  like  several 
of  his  previous  works,  it  was  brought  out  at  Drury  Lane. 
An  amusing  anecdote  is  told  relative  to  this  play.  Mr. 
Gay  had  interest  enough  with  the  Princess  of  Wales 
(afterwards  Queen  Caroline)  to  excite  the  interest  of  Her 
Royal  Highness  in  the  new  piece,  and  the  author  was 
commanded  to  read  the  play  before  the  Court  at  Leicester 
House.  The  day  was  fixed,  and  Mr.  Gay  was  in  atten- 
dance. He  waited  some  time  in  an  ante-chamber,  with 
the  play  in  his  hand,  but  being  a  very  nervous  and  modest 
man,  he  appears  to  have  lost  his  presence  of  mind,  for 
when  the  door  was  opened  into  the  drawing  room,  where 
the  Princess  and  her  ladies  were  seated,  he  was  so  much  con- 
fused about  his  carriage  and  the  necessity  of  making  his 
proper  obeisance,  that  he  stumbled  over  a  footstool  and 
fell  forwards  against  a  heavy  screen,  which  he  knocked 
down,  thus  making  his  appearance  at  Court  in  a  very 
undignified  manner.  Of  course  the  ladies  screamed,  and 
of  course  a  good  deal  of  confusion  ensued ;  but  in  the  end 
poor  Gay  was  able  to  read  his  play.  On  this  story 
Hawkes worth  has  founded  an  amusing  tale  in  the  "Ad- 
venturer," and  it  may  possibly  have  originated  another 
humorous  piece,  well  known  to  modern  reciters,  entitled, 
"  The  Bashful  Man."  The  play,  however,  had  but  little 

28  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

success,  and  again  for  a  time  Gay  seems  to  have  desisted 
from  his  literary  labours. 

In  1723,  as  he  himself  states  in  a  letter  to  Swift,  he 
was  appointed  Commissioner  of  the  State  Lottery,  which 
he  calculated  would  be  worth  to  him  about  a  hundred  and 
fifty  pounds.  He  hoped,  moreover,  that  it  would  have 
brought  him  further  profit;  but  after  holding  the  position 
for  about  two  years,  he  lost  his  place,  presumably  on 
account  of  his  intimacy  with  Bolingbroke,  Swift,  and 
Pulteney,  and  from  a  prejudice  that  Sir  Robert  Walpole 
had  against  him. 

He,  however,  retained  the  favour  of  the  Princess,  and 
at  her  request  wrote  his  first  series  of  those  "  Fables " 
which  form  the  substance  of  this  volume,  and  which  have 
retained  their  popularity  undiminished  to  the  present 
time.  They  are,  as  will  be  seen,  dedicated  to  the  son  of 
the  Princess  of  Wales,  William,  the  young  Duke  of 
Cumberland,  and  were  first  published  in  1726. 

These  Fables  have  been  very  much  criticised,  but  on 
the  whole  they  have  passed  through  the  ordeal  fairly  well, 
and  have  given  pleasure  to  many  generations  of  readers, 
besides  enriching  our  language  with  several  well  krown 
proverbial  sayings.  Of  these,  the  most  familiar  are 
"  When  a  lady's  in  the  case,"  and  "  Two  of  a  trade  can 
never  agree."  The  test  of  their  popularity  may  be  found 
in  the  numerous  editions  that  have  appeared,  and  the  fact 
that  they  have  been  translated  into  most  of  the  European 
languages,  and  are  used  in  India  as  a  school-book,  having 
been  translated  into  several  dialects  of  that  country.  We 
have  been  informed  by  one  publisher1  that  eight  different 
editions  have  been  issued  from  his  house,  with  an  aggre- 
gate of  no  less  than  28,000  copies.  The  latest  edition 
was  edited  by  Mr.  Austin  Dobson  with  a  brief  but  critical 
memoir.  They  have  also  furnished  material  for  some  of 
the  most  skilful  book- illustrations,  prominent  amongst 
which  may  be  mentioned  the  editions  containing  Bewick's 
admirable  sketches,  and  the  sumptuous  edition  of  Stock- 
dale  (1793),  which  contains  seventy  illustrations  by 
William  Blake  and  others. 

1  Messrs.  Longmans. 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  29 

As  a  writer  of  Fables  Gay  stands  pre-eminent  amongst 
English  writers,  as  in  all  the  history  of  literature  only 
four  names  deserve  special  notice  besides  Gay ;  these  are 
^Esop,  Phsedrus,  Pilpay,  and  La  Fontaine :  and  only  two 
of  these  wrote  in  verse. 

Gay  wrote  a  second  series  of  Fables,  which  were  pub- 
lished after  his  death,  in  1738;  but,  whereas  the  first 
series  consisted  of  fifty  fables,  the  second  was  only  six- 
teen, one,  "Ay  and  No,"  being  subsequently  added  in 
later  editions.  Some  interesting  correspondence  took 
place  relative  to  these  Fables  between  Gay  and  Swift, 
from  which  we  make  the  following  extracts  : — 

In  1732,  Gay  wrote:  "You  seemed  not  to  approve  of 
my  writing  more  Fables.  Those  I  am  now  writing  have 
a  prefatory  discourse  before  each  of  them  by  way  of 
epistles  and  the  morals  of  them ;  most  are  of  a  political 
kind,  which  makes  them  run  into  a  greater  length  than 
those  I  have  already  published.  Though  this  is  a  kind  of 
writing  that  appears  very  easy,  I  find  it  the  most  difficult 
of  any  that  I  ever  undertook  ;  after  I  have  invented  one 
fable  and  finished  it,  I  despair  of  finding  out  another; 
but  I  have  a  moral  or  two  which  I  wish  to  write  upon." 

At  another  time  he  wrote :  "I  have  almost  done  every- 
thing I  proposed  in  the  way  of  fables.  I  have  not  set  the 
last  hand  to  them.  Though  they  will  not  amount  to  half 
the  number,  I  believe  they  will  make  much  such  another 
volume  as  the  last.  I  find  it  the  most  difficult  task  I  ever 
undertook,  but  have  determined  to  go  through  with  it ; 
and,  after  this,  I  believe  I  shall  never  have  courage 
enough  to  think  any  more  in  this  way." 

Swift,  to  whom  these  letters  were  addressed,  had  him- 
self vainly  attempted  to  write  fables,  for  he  writes  to  Gay 
(Dublin,  July  10th,  1732):  "I  am  glad  you  determine 
upon  something ;  there  is  no  writing  I  esteem  more  than 
fables,  nor  anything  so  difficult  to  succeed  in:  which, 
however,  you  have  done  excellently  well,  and  I  have  often 
admired  your  happiness  in  such  performances,  which  I 
have  frequently  endeavoured  at  in  vain.  I  remember  I 
acted  as  you  seem  to  hint:  I  found  a  moral  first  and 
studied  for  a  fable,  but  could  do  nothing  that  pleased  me, 

30  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

and  so  left  off  that  scheme  for  ever.  I  remember  one, 
which  was  to  represent  what  scoundrels  rise  in  armies  by 
a  long  war ;  wherein  I  supposed  the  lion  engaged,  and, 
having  lost  all  his  animals  of  worth,  at  last  Sergeant  Hog 
came  to  be  a  Brigadier,  and  Corporal  Ass  a  Colonel,  &c." 

Of  Gay's  Fables  it  may  be  said  that  they  contain  more 
originality  of  invention  than  those  of  either  Phsedrus  or 
La  Fontaine,  although  they  do  not  possess  the  elegant 
brevity  of  the  one,  or  the  captivating  naivete  of  the  other ; 
but,  whereas  their  stories  were  mostly  taken  from  preceding 
authors,  Gay's  are,  with  few  exceptions,  entirely  original. 
His  language  is  a  model  for  this  species  of  composition ; 
seldom  above  or  below  the  subject :  it  is  poetical  without 
being  too  elevated  :  and  familiar  without  being  low. 

Hazlitt  says:  "'Gay's  Fables'  are  certainly  a  work  of 
great  merit,  both  as  to  the  quantity  of  invention  implied, 
and  as  to  the  elegance  and  facility  of  the  execution." 

Gay  seems  to  have  been  the  sport  of  adverse  fate,  for 
on  the  accession  of  George  II.,  he  was  fully  persuaded 
that  his  longed-for  promotion  would  at  last  be  realized, 
and  that  he  would  obtain  some  lucrative  appointment 
at  Court,  as  he  was  already  in  favour  with  the  Royal 
Family.  His  hopes  were  strengthened,  too,  by  a  remark 
of  the  Queen  to  Mrs.  Howard,  afterwards  Countess  of 
Suffolk,  in  allusion  to  his  Fable  of  the  Hare  and  many 
Friends,  that  she  herself  would  take  up  the  Hare ;  Her 
Majesty  enjoining  Mrs.  Howard  to  remind  her,  on  settling 
the  various  appointments  about  her  person,  to  find  some 
fitting  employment  for  Mr.  Gay.  He  was  therefore  offered 
the  position  of  Gentleman  Usher  to  the  Princess  Louise, 
a  girl  of  two  years  old,  with  a  stipend  of  two  hundred 
a  year.  Gay  indignantly  rejected  this  offer,  treating  it  as 
an  insult.  He  writes  to  Swift : — 

"  But  why  should  I  tell  you  what  you  know  already  ? 
The  Queen's  family  is  at  last  settled ;  and  in  the  list  I 
was  appointed  Gentleman  Usher  to  the  Princess  Louise, 
the  youngest  Princess ;  which,  upon  account  that  I  am  so 
far  advanced  in  life,  I  have  declined  accepting ;  and  I 
have  endeavoured  in  the  best  manner  I  could,  to  make  my 
excuses  to  Her  Majesty.  So  now  all  my  expectations  are 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  31 

vanished ;  and  I  have  no  prospect  but  in  depending 
wholly  upon  myself  and  my  own  conduct.  As  I  am  used 
to  disappointments  I  can  bear  them ;  but  as  I  can  have 
no  more  hopes,  I  can  no  more  be  disappointed ;  so  that  I 
am  in  a  blessed  condition."  Swift  alludes  to  this  in  his 
libel  on  Dr.  Delany  and  Lord  Carteret : — 

"  Thus  Gay,  the  Hare  with  many  Friends, 
Twice  sev'n  long  years  the  Court  attends, 
Who  under  tales  conveying  truth, 
To  virtue  form'd  a  princely  youth : 
Who  paid  his  courtship  with  the  crowd, 
As  far  as  modest  pride  allow'd ; 
Rejects  a  servile  Usher's  place, 
And  leaves  St.  James's  in  disgrace. " 

To  Gay  himself,  Swift  writes  on  the  same  incident : 

"  How  could  you,  Gay,  disgrace  the  muse's  strain, 
To  serve  a  tasteless  court  twelve  years  in  vain  ! 
Fain  would  1  think  our  female1  friend  sincere, 
Till  Bob,  the  poet's  foe,2  possest  her  ear  ; 
Did  female  virtue  e'er  so  high  ascend, 
To  lose  an  inch  of  favour  for  a  friend  ? 
Say,  had  the  court  no  better  place  to  chuse 
For  thee,  than  make  a  dry  nurse  of  thy  muse? 
How  cheaply  had  thy  liberty  been  sold, 
To  squire  a  royal  girl  of  two  years  old, 
In  leading  strings  her  infant  steps  to  guide, 
Or  with  her  go  cart  amble  side  by  side  ! " 

The  wisdom  of  his  rejection  of  this  appointment  is 
doubtful,  as  it  is  more  than  probable  that  the  post  was  a 
sinecure,  and  given  him,  in  order  that  he  might  enjoy  the 
emoluments  without  being  called  upon  to  discharge  any 
arduous  duties. 

Very  shortly  after  the  publication  of  the  "Fables," 
Gay  contemplated  another  work  on  which  his  fame 
chiefly  rests.  This  was  the  "  Beggar's  Opera,"  first 
performed  at  Lincoln's  Inn  Theatre  on  January  29th, 
1728.  The  great  success  of  this  piece,  which  carried 
it  through  a  run  of  sixty-three  nights  during  its  first 
season,  and  the  frequent  repetitions  of  it  since,  have 
rendered  its  merits  generally  known,  but  it  may  not  be 
out  of  place  to  enter  briefly  into  a  detail  of  the  causes 
which  led  to  its  remarkable  popularity.  The  origin  of 

1  Mrs.  Howard.  2  sir  Robert  Walpole. 

32  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

the  "  Beggar's  Opera  "  was,  according  to  Pope,  somewhat 
as  follows : — 

"  Dr.  Swift  had  been  observing  once  to  Mr.  Gay  what 
an  odd  pretty  sort  of  thing  a  Newgate  pastoral  might 
make.  Gay  was  inclined  to  try  at  such  a  thing  for  some 
time  ;  but  afterwards  thought  it  would  be  better  to  write 
a  comedy  on  the  same  plan.  This  was  what  gave  rise  to 
the  *  Beggar's  Opera.'  He  began  on  it ;  and  when  first 
he  mentioned  it  to  Swift,  the  doctor  did  not  much  like 
the  project." 

The  opera,  as  originally  written,  had  no  proper  Prologue, 
but  there  was  an  introductory  scene  between  a  beggar 
and  a  player,  in  which  the  former  owns  himself  to  be  the 
author,  and  after  giving  some  details  of  the  piece,  goes  on 
to  say  : — "  I  hope  I  may  be  forgiven  that  I  have  not  made 
my  opera  throughout  unnatural,  like  those  in  vogue  :  for 
I  have  no  recitative  ;  excepting  this,  as  I  have  consented 
to  have  neither  Prologue  nor  Epilogue,  it  must  be  allowed 
an  Opera  in  all  its  forms."  It  was,  therefore,  called  the 
"Beggar's  Opera,"  as  having  been  apparently  written  by 
one  of  that  fraternity.  Beggars'  Opera,  as  it  is  sometimes 
printed,  quasi,  an  opera  by  or  relating  to  beggars,  is 
therefore  erroneous. 

Dr.  Johnson  states  that  the  "Beggar's  Opera"  was 
written  in  ridicule  of  the  musical  Italian  Drama ;  and 
this  is  the  general  opinion  of  other  writers,  and  it  is 
pretty  certain  that  it  had  the  effect  of  arresting  the 
success  of  the  Italian  Opera  for  a  considerable  time. 
Both  Pope  and  Swift  assisted  Gay  in  the  preparation  of 
the  Opera,  both  with  advice  and  literary  help,  but  it  is  a 
singular  thing  that  neither  of  them  believed  in  the 
ultimate  success  of  the  work  as  a  stage  performance, 
According  to  a  writer  in  the  Mirror  (xi.  64),  many  of  the 
pieces  were  written  or  altered  by  Pope,  "whose  wit 
ignited  into  a  fiercer  fire."  The  song  of  Peachum,  the 
thief -taker,  as  written  by  Gay,  was  less  severe,  until  Pope 
altered  the  last  two  lines  : — 

'*  The  priest  calls  the  lawyer  a  cheat, 
The  lawyer  be-knaves  the  divine  ; 
And  the  statesman,  because  he's  so  great, 
Thinks  his  trade  is  as  honest  as  mine." 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  33 

These  stood  in  Gay's  manuscript : — 

"  And  there's  many  arrive  to  be  great, 
By  a  trade  not  more  honest  as  mine." 

Again,  Pope  wrote  the  still  more  audacious  verses  in  the 
song  of  Macheath,  after  his  being  taken  : — 

"  Since  laws  were  made  for  every  degree, 
To  curb  vice  in  others  as  well  as  in  me, 
I  wonder  we  hadn't  better  company 
Upon  Tyburn  tree." 

The  play  was  at  first  offered  to  Colley  Gibber,  for  Drury 
Lane  Theatre,  but  rejected.  It  was  accepted  by  Rich,  and 
by  him  produced  at  the  Lincoln's  Inn  Theatre  in  November, 
1727.  Although  at  first  it  seemed  doubtful  of  success,  as 
it  proceeded  all  doubts  were  removed,  and  at  its  termina- 
tion the  applause  was  vehement  and  long  sustained. 
Gibber,  although  he  did  not  acknowledge  that  he  had 
been  in  error  in  rejecting  the  piece,  spoke  of  it  in  grati- 
fying terms,  and  he  wrote,  "  In  his  *  Beggar's  Opera '  he 
had  more  skilfully  gratify'd  the  Publick  taste  than  all  the 
brightest  authors  that  ever  went  before  him,"  which  was 
high  praise  from  a  rival  manager.  It  soon  became  the 
fashion ;  its  fame  rapidly  spread  to  the  provinces,  and  its 
popularity  has  not  even  now  died  out,  for  it  was  performed 
in  London,  at  the  Avenue  Theatre,  as  recently  as  Novem- 
ber, 1886,  when  Mr.  Sims  Reeves  took  the  character  of 
Macheath,  and  Miss  Phillipine  Siedle  that  of  Polly 

Were  we  writing  a  history  of  this  play,  we  could  give 
many  other  interesting  facts  and  figures  relative  to  it  j  but 
we  must  needs  forbear,  attractive  though  the  subject  may 
be.  One  or  two  incidents  must  therefore  suffice  for  our 
present  purpose.  It  is  not  often  that  a  player  forgets  his 
or  her  part  after  many  repetitions  of  a  piece,  but  this  did 
actually  occur  during  the  fifty-third  night  of  the  perform- 
ance of  the  "  Beggar's  Opera,"  One  of  the  players  was 
reproved  by  Rich,  the  manager,  for  having  forgotten  his 
part.  "Well,  really,"  returned  the  actor,  "one  cannot 
remember  the  thing  for  ever." 

The  Rev.  George  Gilfillan,  in  his  "  Life  of  Gay,"  speaking 


34  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY 

of  the  "  Beggar's  Opera,"  says :  "  On  its  first  night  there  was 
a  brilliant  assemblage.  What  painter  shall  give  their 
heads  and  faces  on  that  anxious  evening  ?  Swift's  lower- 
ing front ;  Pope's  bright  eyes,  contrasting  with  the  blind 
orbs  of  Congreve  (if  he,  indeed,  were  there) ,  Acldison's 
quiet,  thoughtful  physiognomy,  as  of  one  retired  into  some 
1  Vision  of  Mirza ' ;  the  Duke  of  Argyll,  with  his  star  and 
stately  form  and  animated  countenance;  and  poor  Gay 
himself,  perhaps,  like  some  other  playwrights  in  the  same 
predicament,  perspiring  with  trepidation,  as  if  again  about 
to  recite  the  *  Captives  ! '  At  first  uncertainty  prevails 
among  the  patron-critics,  and  strange  looks  are  exchanged 
between  Swift  and  Pope,  till,  by-and-by,  the  latter  hears 
Argyll  exclaim,  '  It  will  do — it  must  do  !  I  see  it  in  the 
eyes  of  'em  ! '  and  then  the  critics  breathe  freely,  and  the 
applause  becomes  incontrollable,  and  the  curtain  closes  at 
last  amidst  thunders  of  applause ;  and  Gay  goes  home 
triumphant,  amidst  a  circle  of  friends,  who  do  not  know 
whether  more  to  wonder  at  his  success  or  at  their  own 
previous  apprehensions." 

The  financial  result  of  this  venture  seems  to  have  been 
as  satisfactory  as  its  dramatic  success,  for  it  was 
declared  by  a  wit  of  the  period  to  have  made  "  Gay  rich 
and  Mich  gay."  The  total  sum  realized  by  the  thirty-two 
successive  performances  was  £5,351  15s.,  of  which  Gay's 
share  was  £693  13s.  $d.  It  is  probable  that  the  author 
realized  over  one  thousand  pounds  by  the  various  per- 
formances during  its  first  run  on  the  stage.' 

As  to  the  moral  effect  of  the  play,  opinion  was  divided. 
Dr.  Swift  approved  of  it,  but  many  of  the  clergy  censured 
it.  The  Archbishop  of  Canterbury  (Dr.  Herring) 
preached  a  sermon  before  the  Court,  in  which  he  pointed 
out  its  pernicious  tendency  to  destroy  morality  in  the 
lower  classes  of  the  community.  Johnson  also  thought 
that  it  might  have  some  influence  by  making  the  char- 
acter of  a  rogue  familiar,  and  in  some  degree  pleasing. 
Gay's  intention  was,  however,  rather  to  satirise  the  vices 
of  the  great  than  to  popularise  vice,  and  his  shafts  were 
particularly  levelled  at  Sir  R.  Walpole,  who  had  fallen 
under  the  displeasure  of  the  poet  and  his  friends. 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  35 

In  1729,  Gay  brought  out  "Polly,"  a  second  part  of 
the  "  Beggar's  Opera,"  but,  when  on  the  point  of  bringing 
it  forward  at  Covent  Garden,  a  message  was  received  from 
the  Lord  Chamberlain  prohibiting  its  performance,  and 
commanding  that  the  play  should  be  suppressed.  Although 
it  could  not  be  performed,  it  was  published,  and  its  pro- 
duction turned  out  very  advantageous  to  Gay,  for  the 
subscriptions  he  received  from  persons  of  quality  and 
others  were  so  numerous  and  liberal  that  he  is  believed 
to  have  made  more  than  four  times  as  much  by  the  pub- 
lication than  he  could  have  reasonably  hoped  to  clear  by 
a  tolerable  run  on  the  stage.  An  altered  version  of 
"Polly"  was  brought  out  at  the  Hay  market  Theatre  in 
1777,  by  Mr.  Colman,  but  after  a  few  night's  representation 
it  sank  into  its  former  obscurity,  and  never  revived  again. 
It  is  singular  to  note  that  the  Duchess  of  Queensberry — 
Gay's  old  patron — was  present  at  this  performance, 
although  then  extremely  old. 

Gay's  next  work  was  an  English  pastoral  opera,  entitled 
"  Acis  and  Galatea,"  in  three  acts.  It  is  a  recitative  and 
air,  the  story  taken  from  the  13th  Book  of  Ovid's 
"  Metamorphoses."  It  was  set  to  music  by  Handel,  and 
first  performed  at  the  Haymarket  Theatre  in  1732.  This 
work  is  still  very  popular,  although  the  name  of  the 
poet  has  almost  been  lost  sight  of  in  the  greater  fame  of 
the  musician. 

"Achilles,"  an  opera,  appeared  in  1732,  being  per- 
formed at  Covent  Garden.  This  piece,  which  is  in  the 
manner  of  the  "Beggar's  Opera,"  is  a  ludicrous  relation  of 
the  discovery  of  Achilles  by  Ulysses.  The  scene  is  laid 
in  the  Court  of  Lycomedes.  Achilles  is  in  woman's 
clothes  through  the  whole  play,  and  it  concludes  with  his 
marriage  to  Deidamia.  It  gave  rise  to  two  or  three  squibs, 
one  of  which  was  "  Achilles  dissected,"  being  a  complete 
key  to  the  political  characters  in  Mr.  Gay's  work ;  another, 
by  George  Colman,  was  an  altered  version  of  Gay's 
"Achilles,"  brought  out  under  the  title,  "Achilles  in 
Petticoats."  It  met  with  little  success. 

Two  other  works  written  by  Gay  were  not  published 
until  after  his  death.  These  were  "  The  Distress'd  Wife  :  a 


36  LIFE    OF    JOHN     GAY. 

Comedy,"  and  "  The  Kehearsal  at  Goatham."  The  former 
was  published  in  1743  ;  the  latter  in  1754.  Neither  of 
these  plays  was  considered  equal  to  the  generality  of  Gay's 
earlier  writings,  and  in  no  sense  added  to  his  fame.  Gay 
wrote  many  other  pieces  than  those  we  have  enumerated 
in  the  preceding  pages  ;  they  are  classed  in  his  collected 
works  as  Epistles,  Tales,  Eclogues,  Songs  and  Ballads, 
Elegies,  etc.,  etc. 

We  have  already  mentioned  some  of  the  epistles ;  the 
tales  are  few  and  of  no  great  merit ;  the  town  eclogues  are 
chiefly  a  display  of  the  scandal-mongering  of  the  time, 
and  require  nothing  more  than  this  passing  note.  The 
songs  and  ballads  are  of  much  more  importance,  as  some, 
at  least,  of  them  rank  high  amongst  English  lyrical  pro- 
ductions. There  are  contained  in  the  various  operas 
written  by  Gay  nearly  two  hundred  songs  and  ballads, 
many  of  which  are  still  popular,  and  are  often  sung  inde- 
pendently of  the  works  in  which  they  originally  appeared. 
Two  of  the  most  celebrated  songs  are  "All  in  the  Downs," 
or,  as  it  is  more  frequently  entitled,  "Black-eyed  Susan," 
and  "  'Twas  when  the  Seas  were  Koaring."  The  former 
has  often  been  pirated  and  paraphrased  by  unscrupulous 
people  who  gave  Gay  little  credit  for  his  production. 

A  very  interesting  incident  is  narrated  by  Mr.  J.  K. 
Chanter,  in  a  paper  contributed  to  a  west  of  England 
journal,1  which  we  cannot  refrain  from  quoting : — "  An 
interesting  local  incident  as  to  these  ballads  occurred  in 
this  town  (Barnstaple)  half  a  century  after  Gay's  decease. 
Incledon,  the  celebrated  vocalist,  during  a  professional 
tour  in  the  West  in  his  palmy  days,  visited  Barnstaple,  as 
a  pilgrimage  to  the  birthplace  of  Gay;  and  on  being 
shown  the  house  in  which  the  poet  had  passed  his  early 
days,  astonished  and  delighted  the  neighbours  by  breaking 
out  into  song  in  the  open  street  in  front  of  the  house, 
and,  in  the  stillness  of  a  bright  moonlight  evening, 
warbled  several  of  his  ballads  and  songs,  as  a  tribute 
to  Gay's  memory.  (I  had  this  from  an  ancient  inhabitant, 
an  eye-witness  of  the  scene.)"  Dr.  Brushfield,  in  another 
article  in  the  same  journal,  mentions  another  anecdote 

1  Western  Antiquary. 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  37 

relative  to  Gay  and  his  ballads.  The  incident  is  quoted 
from  Treivmaris  Exeter  Fying  Post  of  August  21st,  1817: — 
"  Gay  wrote  his  well  known  ballad  of  'Black-eyed  Susan' 
upon  Mrs.  Montford,  a  celebrated  actress,  contemporary 
with  Gibber.  After  her  retirement  from  the  stage,  love 
and  the  ingratitude  of  a  bosom  friend,  deprived  her  of  her 
senses,  and  she  was  placed  in  a  receptacle  for  lunatics. 
During  a  lucid  interval,  she  asked  her  attendant  what 
play  was  to  be  performed  that  evening,  and  was  told, 
Hamlet.  In  this  tragedy,  whilst  on  the  stage,  she  had 
ever  been  received  with  rapture  as  Ophelia.  The  recol- 
lection struck  her,  and  with  that  cunning  which  is  so  often 
allied  to  insanity,  she  eluded  the  care  of  her  keepers,  and 
got  to  the  theatre,  where  she  concealed  herself  until  the 
scene  in  which  Ophelia  enters  in  her  insane  state ;  she 
then  pushed  on  the  stage  before  the  lady  who  had 
performed  the  previous  part  of  the  character  could  come 
on,  and  exhibited  a  more  perfect  representation  of  madness 
than  the  utmost  exertions  of  the  mimic  art  could  effect ; 
she  was  in  truth  Ophelia  herself,  to  the  amazement  of  the 
performers  and  the  astonishment  of  the  audience.  Nature 
having  made  this  last  effort,  her  vital  powers  failed  her. 
On  going  off,  she  exclaimed :  '  It  is  all  over.'  She  was 
immediately  conveyed  back,  to  her  late  place  of  security, 
and  a  few  days  after  : — 

'  Like  a  lily  drooping,  she  hung  her  head  and  died. " 

Gay  wrote  another  capital  ballad  on  "  Ale,"  which  was 
not  included  in  the  earlier  editions  of  his  works.  In  it  he 
sings  the  praises  of  "Nappy  Ale,"  a  beverage  well-known 
and  highly  appreciated  in  his  native  Devon.  Another 
well  known  ballad  was  entitled  "Molly  Mog;  or,  the  Fair 
Maid  of  the  Inn " ;  this  was  written  on  an  innkeeper's 
daughter  at  Oakingham,  in  Berkshire,  who  in  her  youth 
was  a  celebrated  beauty  and  toast ;  she  lived  to  a  very 
advanced  age,  and  until  the  month  of  March,  1766. 
From  this  it  will  be  seen  that  Gay  had  the  musical  faculty 
as  well  as  the  poetical,  for  his  songs  are  all  melodious  and 
adapted  for  music.  It  is  generally  believed  that  when  a 
youth  he  not  only  sang,  but  played  well  upon  the  flute.  One 

38  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

interesting  feature  in  his  works  (to  which  we  have  already 
made  passing  allusion)  is  the  number  of  proverbial  lines  and 
couplets  scattered  through  them  which  have  become  stock 
phrases  and  are  part  and  parcel  of  our  every-day  language. 

"Dearest  friends  must  part." 

"  While  there's  life  there's  hope." 

"  Two  of  a  trade  can  nerer  agree." 

"  When  a  lady's  in  the  case, 
You  know  all  other  things  give  place. " 

"  Those  who  in  quarrels  interpose 
Must  often  wipe  a  bloody  nose. " 

"  How  happy  could  I  be  with  either 
Were  t'other  dear  charmer  away." 

Gay,  in  one  of  his  many  letters  to  Dr.  Swift,  gives  a 
humorous  receipt  for  stewing  veal,  which  he  says  was  in- 
tended for  Monsieur  Davaux,  Mr,  Pulteney's  cook.  The 
lines  are  as  follows : — 

"  Take  a  knuckle  of  veal ; 
You  may  buy  it,  or  steal. 
In  a  few  pieces  cut  it : 
In  a  stewing-pan  put  it. 
Salt,  pepper,  and  mace 

Must  season  this  knuckle  ; 
Them  what's  pin'd  to  a  place, 

With  other  herbs  muckle  ; 
That  which  killed  King  2  Will  : 
And  what  never s  stands  still. 
Some  4  sprigs  of  that  bed 
Where  children  are  bred, 
Which  much  you  will  mend,  if 
Both  spinnage  and  endive, 
And  lettice,  and  beet, 
With  marygold  meet. 
Put  no  water  at  all ; 
For  it  maketh  things  small, 
Which,  lest  it  should  happen, 
A  close  cover  clap  on. 
Put  this  pot  of  5  Wood's  mettle 
In  a  hot,  boiling  kettle, 
And  here  let  it  be 
(Mark  the  doctrine  I  teach) 
About — let  me  see, — 
Thrice  as  long  as  you  preach  6 ; 

1  Vulgo,  salary ;  i.e.,  celery.  2  Supposed  sorrel. 

»  This  is  by  Dr.  Bentlcy  thought  to  be  time,  or  thyme. 
*  Parsley.    Vide  Chamberlayne.  o  Copper 

6  Which  we  suppose  to  be  near  four  hours. 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  39 

So,  skimming  the  fat  off, 
Say  grace  with  your  hat  off. 
O,  then,  with  what  rapture 
Will  it  fill  dean  and  chapter  ! 

Several  pieces  are  included  in  later  editions  of  Gay's 
•works  which  were  not  published  during  his  lifetime,  and 
not  included  in  the  earlier  editions  of  his  collected  poems. 
One  of  these  is  "Gondibert,"  a  poem  (continued  from 
Sir  William  Davenant).  There  does  not  appear  to  be 
any  definite  authority  for  including  this  amongst  the 
poems  of  Gay ;  and  the  same  may  be  said  of  others  which 
we  need  not  here  enumerate.  Gay  had  many  imitators : 
one  of  these  was  Captain  John  Durant  Breval,  who  pub- 
lished several  works  under  the  assumed  name  of  "  Joseph 
Gay,"  or  "Mr.  Gay,"  only.  "The  Petticoat"  was  one  of 
these,  published  in  1716,  which  looks  like  an  imitation 
of  Gay's  "Fan."  Another,  "The  Confederates,"  hits  a 
sideblow  at  "  Three  Hours  after  Marriage,"  in  which  it 
may  be  remembered  that  Gay  was  associated  with  Pope 
and  Arbuthnot.  The  publication  of  this  work  so  offended 
Pope  that  he  introduced  "Breval"  into  the  "Dunciad" 
(Book  II.,  126). 

We  have  now  to  speak  of  a  most  interesting  and 
curious  little  volume,  published  in  1820,  entitled  "Gay's 
Chair,.''  being  poems  never  before  printed,  written  by 
Gay,  with  a  sketch  of  his  life,  from  MSS.  left  by  the 
Rev.  Joseph  Bailer,  his  nephew.  In  the  preface  to  this 
volume  are  some  interesting  particulars,  which  we  think 
are  worthy  of  being  incorporated  in  this  biography  of  the 
poet.  "Many  of  the  most  respectable  inhabitants  of 
Barnstaple  and  its  vicinity  remember  having  often  seen 
this  chair,  several  years  ago,  while  it  was  in  the  possession 
of  Gay's  immediate  descendants,  who  always  spoke  of  it 
as  having  been  the  property  of  the  poet,  and  which,  as 
his  favourite  easy  chair,  he  highly  valued.  Its  identity 
cannot  well  be  mistaken,  from  the  peculiarity  of  its  shape, 
its  antique  appearance,  and  curious  construction ;  forming, 
with  its  conveniently  attached  apparatus  for  writing  and 
reading,  a  complete  student's  chair. 

"About  twelve  years  since,  it  was  sold  amongst  some  of 

40  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

the  effects  of  the  late  Mrs.  Williams,  niece  of  the  Rev. 
Joseph  Bailer,  and  who  by  a  previous  marriage  had  been 
the  wife  of  the  Rev.  Hugh  Fortescue,  of  Filleigh,  near 
Barnstaple.  Both  families  (the  Fortescues  and  the  Bailers) 
were  by  marriage  nearly  related  to  Gay,  whose  property 
was,  at  his  decease  (as  will  afterwards  be  shown),  equally 
divided  betwixt  his  sisters,  Katherine  Bailer  and  Joanna 

"  Since  the  period  of  Mrs.  "Williams'  death,  the  chair 
came  into  the  hands  of  the  late  Mr.  Clarke,  of  High 
Street,  Barnstaple,  and  it  was  sold,  with  the  rest  of  his 
household  furniture,  by  public  auction.  The  editor 
(Henry  Lee)  happening  to  be  then  in  Devonshire,  heard 
of  the  above  circumstance,  and  anxious  to  ascertain  the 
particulars,  applied  to  the  auctioneer,  who  informed  him 
that  the  chair  had  been  sold  to  a  person  of  the  name  of 
Symonds,  to  whom  the  editor  immediately  went,  saw  the 
chair,  and  afterwards  purchased  it :  orders  were  given  that 
it  should  be  sent  to  the  house  of  Mr.  Crook,  a  cabinet 
maker  in  the  same  street,  to  be  repaired ;  who  on  removing 
the  drawers,  discovered  the  manuscripts  from  which  the 
principal  articles  of  this  publication  are  taken. 

"The  following  extract  from  Mr.  Crook's  letter  to  a 
gentleman  who  made  inquiries  on  the  subject,  will,  it  is 
presumed,  be  satisfactory — '  The  chair  was  bought  at  an 
auction  by  Mr.  Symonds,  of  this  town,  from  whose  house 
it  came  to  mine.  I  was  desired  to  repair  it,  and  on  taking 
out  the  draw  in  front,  which  was  somewhat  broken,  I 
found  at  the  back  part  of  the  chair,  a  concealed  drawer, 
ingeniously  fastened  with  a  small  wooden  bolt.  Those 
who  have  lately  had  possession  of  the  chair  never  knew 
of  this  concealed  drawer  :  it  was  full  of  manuscript  papers, 
some  of  which  appeared  to  have  slipped  over,  as  I  found 
them  stuck  in  the  bottom  or  seat  of  the  chair.  A 
respectable  tradesman  of  this  town  was  present  when  I 
made  the  discovery.  The  owner  of  the  chair  was  imme- 
diately sent  for,  and  the  whole  of  the  papers  safely 
delivered  into  his  hands.  I  am,  Sir,  your  humble  servant, 


" '  March  21st,  1819.  Cabinet  Maker,  Barnstaple.' 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  41 

"  That  the  chair  originally  belonged  to  Gay  there  is  not 
the  least  doubt;  the  fact  is  admitted  by  all  the  best 
informed  persons  in  the  neighbourhood  who  have  paid 
any  attention  to  the  subject." 

The  editor  then  cites  the  authority  of  several  persons 
as  to  the  authenticity  of  the  chair,  and  concludes  with 
the  following  paragraph :  "  Amongst  the  documents  and 

relics  of  Gay  and  his  family,  which  the  editor  has  become 
possessed  of  (and  which  may,  at  some  future  time,  be  more 
particularly  noticed),  is  a  small,  curiously  carved  wooden 
box,  of  about  five  inches  diameter;  when  opened,  there 
appears  in  the  centre  a  compartment  secured  by  a  screw 
lid,  round  which  is  a  depository  for  cash— it  is  said  to 
have  been  Gay's  money-box.  A  poet's  money-box  may, 
perhaps,  be  considered  a  great  curiosity,  but  the  reader 
will  not  be  surprised  when  he  is  intormed  that  it  was 
found — empty  ! " 

The  volume  contains  the  following  pieces  by  Gay,  which, 

42  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

it  is  believed,  have  never  been  before  printed,  and  are 
certainly  in  his  well  known  style  : — 

1.  "The  Ladies'  Petition  to  the  Honourable  the  House 
of  Commons,  commencing,  *  We,  the  Maids  of  Exon 
City.'"  2.  "To  Miss  Jane  Scott."  3.  "Prediction." 
4.  " Comparisons."  5.  "Absence."  6.  "Fable."  7.  "Con- 
gratulations to  a  Newly  Married  Pair."  8.  "A  Devon- 
shire  Hill."  9.  "Letter  to  a  Young  Lady.''  10.  "To 
my  Chair." 

The  cut  on  the  preceding  page  is  a  fair  representation 
of  this  curious  and  useful  chair,  and  it  will  doubtless 
commend  itself  in  shape  and  convenience  to  other  literati. 

Gay's  death  took  place  on  December  4th,  1732,  at 
the  residence  of  the  Duke  of  Queensberry,  in  Burlington 
Gardens,  near  Piccadilly.  His  Grace  had  latterly  taken 
the  entire  control  of  Gay  and  his  affairs,  treating  him  as  a 
privileged  guest,  managing  his  monetary  affairs,  and 
doing  all  in  his  power  to  render  his  life  bearable.  But 
Gay  still  suffered  from  his  early  disappointments  at  Court, 
and  consequently  his  last  days  were  gloomy  and  over- 
shadowed. His  state  at  this  time  may  best  be  gathered 
from  a  few  extracts  from  his  correspondence,  much  of 
which  has  been  preserved.  Writing  to  Pope,  he  says  : — 
"  My  melancholy  increases,  and  every  hour  threatens  me 
with  some  return  of  my  distemper;  nay,  I  may  rather 
say  I  have  it  on  me.  Not  the  divine  books,  the  kind 
favours  and  expressions  of  the  divine  Duchess  (who  here- 
after shall  be  in  place  of  a  Queen  to  me;  nay,  she 
shall  be  my  Queen),  nor  the  inexpressible  goodness  of  the 
Duke,  can  in  the  least  cheer  me.  The  drawing  room  no 
more  receives  light  from  these  two  stars.  There  is  now 
(what  Milton  says  in  Hell)  darkness  visible.  0  that  I 
had  never  known  what  a  Court  was  !  Dear  Pope,  what  a 
barren  soil  (to  me  so)  have  I  been  striving  to  produce 
something  out  of !  Why  did  I  not  take  your  advice 
before  my  writing  fables  for  the  Duke  not  to  write  them, 
or  rather  to  write  them  for  some  young  nobleman  ?  It  is 
my  hard  fate.  I  must  get  nothing,  write  for  them  or 
against  them." 

On  October  7th,  1732,  he  writes  to  Pope:— "I  am  at 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  43 

last  returned  from  my  Somersetshire  expedition,  but  since 
my  return  I  cannot  boast  of  my  health  as  I  could  before 
I  went,  for  I  am  frequently  out  of  order  with  my  colical 
complaint,  so  as  to  make  me  uneasy  and  dispirited,  though 
not  to  any  violent  degree. 

"All  this  journey  I  performed  on  horseback,  and  am 
very  much  disappointed  that  at  present  I  feel  myself  so  little 
the  better  for  it.  I  have,  indeed,  followed  riding  and 
exercise  for  three  months  successively,  and  really  think  I 
was  as  well  without  it ;  so  that  I  begin  to  feel  the  illness 
I  have  so  long  and  so  often  complained  of  is  inherent  in 
my  constitution,  and  that  I  have  nothing  for  it  but 

On  another  occasion,  he  writes  : — 

"  I  find  myself  in  such  a  strange  confusion  and  dejection 
of  spirits,  that  I  have  not  strength  enough  to  make  my 
will,  though  I  perceive,  by  many  warnings,  I  have  no 
continuing  city  here.  I  begin  to  look  upon  myself  as 
one  already  dead,  and  desire,  my  dear  Mr.  Pope,  whom 
I  love  as  my  own  soul,  if  you  survive  me,  as  you  certainly 
will,  if  a  stone  should  mark  the  place  of  my  grave,  see 
these  words  put  upon  it : — 

" '  Life  is  a  jest,  and  all  things  show  it, 
I  thought  so  once,  but  now  I  know  it,' 

with  what  you  may  think  proper.  If  anybody  should 
ask,  how  I  could  communicate  this  after  death  ?  let  it  be 
known  it  is  not  meant  so,  but  my  present  sentiments 
in  life." 

In  this  uncertain  state  of  health  he  set  about  preparing 
his  opera  of  "Achilles"  for  the 'stage,  but  caught  a  fever 
which  carried  him  off  in  less  than  three  days. 

We  shall  now  see  how  Gay's  death  affected  his  most 
intimate  friends.  Pope,  in  a  letter  to  Swift,  dated 
December  8th,  1732,  says  : — 

"It  is  not  a  time  to  complain  that  you  have  not 
answered  my  two  letters.  It  is  now  indeed  a  time  to 
think  of  myself,  when  one  of  the  nearest  and  longest  ties 
I  ever  had  is  broken  of  a  sudden,  by  the  unexpected 

44  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

death  of  poor  Mr.  Gay.  An  inflammatory  fever  hurried 
him  out  of  life  in  less  than  three  days ;  he  died  last  night 
at  nine  o'clock,  not  deprived  of  his  senses  entirely  at  last, 
and  possessing  them  perfectly  till  within  five  hours.  He 
asked  of  you  a  few  hours  before,  when  in  acute  torment 
by  an  inflammation  in  his  bowels  and  breast. 

"  Good  God !  how  often  are  we  to  die  before  we  quit 
this  stage  ?  In  every  friend  we  lose  a  part  of  ourselves, 
and  the  best  part.  God  bless  those  we  have  left." 

Dr.  Arbuthnot  wrote  to  Swift  on  January  13th,  1733  : 
"  We  have  all  had  another  loss  of  our  worthy  and  dear 
friend,  Mr.  Gay.  It  was  some  alleviation  of  my  grief  to 
see  him  so  universally  lamented  by  almost  everybody, 
even  by  those  who  knew  him  only  by  reputation.  He 
was  interred  at  Westminster  Abbey  as  if  he  had  been 
a  peer  of  the  realm,  and  the  good  Duke  of  Queensberry, 
who  lamented  him  as  a  brother,  will  set  up  a  handsome 
monument  upon  him." 

In  another  letter  from  Pope  to  Swift,  we  read :  "It  is, 
indeed,  impossible  to  speak  on  such  a  subject  as  the  loss 
or  Mr.  Gay — to  me  an  irreparable  one.  You  say  truly 
that  death  is  only  terrible  as  it  separates  us  from  those  we 
love ;  but  I  really  think  those  have  the  worst  of  it  who 
are  left  by  us,  if  we  are  true  friends.  I  have  felt  more, 
I  fancy,  in  the  loss  of  Mr.  Gay  than  I  shall  suffer  in  the 
thought  of  going  away  myself  into  a  state  that  can  feel 
none  of  its  losses. 

"I  wished  vehemently  to  have  seen  him  in  a  condition 
of  living  independent,  and  to  have  lived  in  perfect  indo- 
lence the  rest  of  our  days  together — the  two  most  idle, 
most  innocent,  undesigning  poets  of  our  age." 

Gay's  friend  and  patron,  the  Duchess  of  Queensberry, 
wrote  to  Swift :  "  Soon  after  the  death  of  our  friend,  Mr. 
Gay,  I  found  myself  more  inclined  to  write  to  you  than 
to  allow  myself  any  other  entertainment.  If  I  have  any 
good  in  me,  I  certainly  learned  it  insensibly  of  our  poor 
friend,  as  children  do  any  strange  language.  It  is  not 
possible  to  imagine  the  loss  his  death  is  to  me ;  but  as 
long  as  I  have  any  memory,  the  happiness  of  ever  having 
had  such  a  friend  can  never  be  lost  to  me." 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  45 

And  again  she  writes :  "  Whilst  I  had  that  very  sincere 
good  friend,  I  could  sometimes  lay  open  all  my  rambling 
thoughts,  and  he  and  I  would  often  view  and  dissect 
them ;  but  now  they  come  and  go,  and  I  seldom  find  out 
whether  they  be  right  or  wrong,  or  if  there  be  anything 
in  them.  Poor  man  !  he  was  most  truly  everything  you 
could  say  of  him." 

Swift's  letter  to  the  Duchess,  written  from  Ireland,  was 
couched  in  the  following  terms  :  "  The  greatest  unhappi- 
ness  of  my  life  is  grown  a  comfort  under  the  death  of  my 
friend.  I  mean  my  banishment  in  this  miserable  country; 
for  the  distance  I  am  at,  and  the  despair  I  have  of  ever 
seeing  my  friends  further  than  by  a  summer  visit ;  and 
this,  so  late  in  my  life,  so  uncertain  in  my  health,  and  so 
embroiled  in  my  affairs,  may  probably  never  happen,  so 
that  my  loss  is  not  so  great  as  that  of  his  other  friends, 
who  had  it  in  their  power  to  converse  with  him.  But  I 
chiefly  lament  your  Grace's  misfortune,  because  I  greatly 
fear,  with  all  the  perfections  which  can  possibly  acquire 
veneration  to  a  mortal  creature  from  the  worthiest  of 
human  kind,  you  will  never  be  able  to  procure  another  so 
useful,  so  sincere,  so  virtuous,  so  disinterested,  so  enter- 
taining, so  easy,  and  so  humble  a  friend  as  that  person 
whose  death  all  good  men  lament." 

One  of  the  most  beautiful  and  touching  tributes  ever 
paid  to  the  memory  of  a  brother  poet  was  that  written  by 
Pope  on  Gay : — 

"  Blest  be  the  great !  for  those  they  take  away, 
And  those  they  left  me,  for  they  left  me  Gay ; 
Left  me  to  see  neglected  genius  bloom, 
Neglected  die,  and  tell  it  on  his  tomb : 
Of  all  thy  blameless  life  the  sole  return, 
My  verse,  and  Queens'b'ry  weeping  o'er  his  urn."1 

As  Gay  never  married  and  left  no  will,  his  two  sisters, 
Catherine  Bailer  and  Joanna  Fortescue,  became  entitled 
to  his  property,  which  amounted  to  about  £6,000.  On 
January  2nd,  1733,  Letters  of  Administration  were  granted 
to  them ;  and  they  further  obtained  a  large  sum  of  money 
from  a  suit  in  Chancery  which  Gay  had  instituted,  some 

i  Pope's  Prologue,  to  the  "  Satires ' 

46  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

months  before  his  death,  against  some  printers  and  book- 
sellers who  had  published  various  editions  of  his  "Polly" 
without  his  consent.  Some  years  afterwards,  the  sisters 
also  received  the  profits  of  a  benefit  from  one  of  the 

Gay,  as  we  have  seen,  was  buried  in  "Westminster 
Abbey  amongst  England's  most  illustrious  dead. 

"  His  body  was  brought,  by  the  company  of  Upholders, 
from  the  Duke  of  Queensberry's  to  Exeter  'Change  in 
the  Strand,  and  on  the  23rd  of  December,  after  lying  in 
very  decent  State,  was,  at  Eight  of  the  clock  in  the  Even- 
ing, drawn  in  a  Hearse,  trimmed  with  Plumes  of  Black 
and  "White  Feathers,  attended  with  three  mourning 
Coaches  and  six  Horses,  to  "Westminster  Abbey.  His 
Pall  was  supported  by  the  Rt.  Hon.  the  Earl  of  Chester- 
field, the  Lord  Viscount  Cornbury;  the  Hon.  Mr. 
Berkeley ;  General  Dormer ;  Mr.  Gore  ;  and  Mr.  Pope. 
The  last  offices  were  performed  by  the  Rt.  Rev.  Dr. 
Wilcox,  Bishop  of  Rochester,  the  Choir  attending;  and 
his  Remains  were  deposited  in  the  South-Cross-Isle,  over 
against  Chaucer's  Tomb."1 

A  monument  was  erected  to  his  memory  by  his  noble 
patrons,  the  sculptor  being  the  famous  Mr.  Rysbrack.  It 
bears  the  following  glowing  eulogium,  penned  by 
Mr.  Pope : — 

"  Of  manners  gentle,  of  Affections  mild, 
In  Wit  a  Man,  Simplicity,  a  Child  ; 
With  native  Humour,  temp'ring  virtuous  Rage, 
Form'd  to  delight  at  once  and  lash  the  Age. 
Above  Temptation  in  a  low  Estate, 
And  uncorrupted,  e'en  among  the  great. 
A  safe  Companion,  and  an  easy  Friend, 
Unblam'd  thro'  Life,  lamented  in  thy  End. 
These  are  thy  Honours  !  Not  that  here  thy  Bust, 
Is  mix'd  with  Heroes,  or  with  Kings  thy  Dust : 
But  that  the  Worthy  and  the  Good  shall  say, 
Striking  their  pensive  Bosoms, — here  lies  Gay." 

Passing  from  the  laudations  of  his  most  intimate  friends, 
we  might  cite  many  interesting  passages  from  the  writings 
of  his  various  biographies  from  Curl  to  Dobson.  A  few 
of  these,  however,  must  suffice.  Dr.  R.  Carruthers, 

1  Life  of  Gay,  1733. 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  47 

writing  in  the  Encyclopedia  Britannica  (9th  Edition), 
says  : — "  It  may  be  safely  said  that  no  man  could  have 
acquired  such  a  body  of  great  and  accomplished  friends  as 
those  which  rallied  round  Gay  and  mourned  his  loss, 
without  the  possession  of  many  valuable  and  endearing 
qualities.  His  poetry  is  neither  high  nor  pure ;  but  he 
had  humour,  a  fine  vein  of  fancy,  and  powers  of  obser- 
vation and  local  painting  which  bespeak  the  close  poetical 
student  and  the  happy  literary  artist."  The  Kev.  George 
Gilfillan  sums  up  his  opinion  of  Gay  in  the  following 
pithy  paragraph : — 

"  John  Gay  had  his  faults  as  a  man  and  as  a  poet,  and 
it  were  easy  finding  fault  with  him  in  both  capacities. 

f  Poor  were  the  Triumph  o'er  the  timid  hare ' ; 

and  he  was,  by  his  own  showing,  as  well  as  Queen 
Caroline's,  '  The  Hare  with  many  Friends.'  Let  us, 
instead,  drop  'a  tear  over  his  fate,'  and  pay  a  tribute, 
short,  but  sincere,  to  his  true,  though  limited  genius." 
In  the  "Memoir"  appended  to  previous  editions  of  these 
"  Fables,"  issued  by  the  present  publishers,  and  written 
by  the  Kev.  0.  F.  Owen,  we  find  the  following  record  : — 
"  The  great  merit  attached  to  Gay  on  the  score  of  orig- 
inality consists  in  his  having  been  the  first  to  bring  out 
the  ballad  opera,  and  thereby  to  have  hit  the  public  taste 
by  a  species  of  composition  appropriate,  if  not  elevated. 
Indeed,  the  general  character  of  his  intellect,  like  that  of 
his  disposition,  seems  to  have  been  of  a  moderate  temper, 
in  which  correctness  took  the  medium  place  between 
genius  and  tenuity.  Pop3  describes  him  as  a  natural 
man,  without  design,  who  spoke  what  he  thought,  and 
just  as  he  thought  it ;  of  a  timid  temper,  and  fearful  of 
giving  offence  to  the  great,  which  latter  habit,  he  says, 
'was  of  no  avail.'  He  might  have  added,  neither  will  it 
ever  succeed,  since  the  world,  to  be  managed  properly, 
must,  as  Charles  the  Fifth  observed,  feel  *  the  iron  hand 
in  the  silk  glove.'  In  Gay,  it  is  certain,  we  discover  none 
of  those  faults  which 

'  Lofty  genius  owes 

Half  to  the  ardour  which  itself  bestows. 

48  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

His  policy  lay  in  the  natural  exercise  of  his  disposition, 
which  was  so  plastic  as  readily  to  succumb  to  others  in 
contented  servility." 

And  Austin  Dobson,  the  latest  of  his  biographers,  has 
written : — "He  was  thoroughly  kindly  and  affectionate, 
with  just  that  touch  of  clinging  in  his  nature,  and  of 
helplessness  in  his  character,  which,  when  it  does  not 
inspire  contempt  (and  Gay's  parts  secured  him  from  that) 
makes  a  man  the  spoiled  child  of  men  and  the  playfellow 
of  women.  He  had  his  frailties,  it  is  true ;  he  was  as 
indolent  as  Thomson;  as  fond  of  fine  clothes  as  Gold- 
smith; as  great  a  gourmand  as  La  Fontaine.  That  he 
was  also  easily  depressed  and  despondent  was  probably 
the  result  of  his  inactive  life  and  his  uncertain  health. 
But,  at  his  best,  he  must  have  been  a  delightfully  equable 
and  unobtrusive  companion — invaluable  for  fetes  and 
gala  days,  and  equally  well  adapted  for  the  half-lights  and 
unrestrained  intercourse  of  familiar  life." 

Such  are  a  few  of  the  many  appreciative  notices  of 
the  subject  of  this  brief  memoir.  Many  more  might  be 
introduced,  but  as  this  sketch  is  simply  intended  to  form 
an  introduction  to  the  volume  of  "Fables"  now  again 
offered  to  the  discriminating  public,  we  reluctantly 
forbear  overburdening  these  pages.  We  trust  ere  long 
that  an  opportunity  may  occur  for  giving  to  the  world  a 
full  and  exhaustive  Life  of  John  Gay,  fit  to  be  placed  side 
by  side  with  those  biographies  of  his  contemporaries 
whose  names  have  frequently  appeared  in  the  course  of 
our  essay.  Devonshire  men  are  proud  of  their  native 
born  poet ;  but  even  to  them  the  incidents  of  his  life  and 
the  merits  of  his  writings  are  all  too  little  known. 

We  have  in  the  foregoing  pages  given  a  brief  sketch  of 
Gay's  life  and  literary  successes,  with  not  a  few  failures. 
It  only  remains  for  us  to  make  two  or  three  general  remarks 
upon  ^his  personal  appearance  and  character.  His 
social  fcharacter  may  be  judged  from  the  extracts  of  his 
own  leflters  and  those  of  his  friends  Pope  and  Swift,  from 
which  we  have  freely  drawn,  and  through  which  (as  in  a 
mirror)  we  seem  to  see  the  man  himself  and  to  become 
interested  in  everything  that  pertains  to  him.  We  cannot 

LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY.  49 

help  pitying  him  for  the  many  and  grievous  disappoint- 
ments which  tended  very  much  to  embitter  his  life ;  and 
yet  we  find  very  few  traits  in  his  character  which  call  for 
condemnation  or  even  serious  disapproval.  As  we  have 
before  remarked,  Pope  described  him  as  "In  wit,  a  man, 
simplicity,  a  child,"  and  this  character  he  retained  to  his 
latest  years.  "He  was  by  turns  thoughtless  and  over 
solicitous,  careless  and  provident,  playful  and  serious, 
timid  before  strangers,  but  volatile  in  the  company  of  his 
acquaintance.  Suddenly  dejected  and  suddenly  depressed  ; 
without  guile  himself  and  expecting  none  in  others; 
confiding  in  promises ;  fearful  of  giving  offence,  yet  frank 
and  indiscreet  in  uttering  his  thoughts." 

Several  portraits  of  him  are  extant,  from  which  we 
may  judge  his  physiognomy  to  have  been  by  no  means 
remarkable ;  rather  denoting  bejiignity  and  meekness 
than  strength  or  self-reliance. 

He  was  inclined  to  corpulency,  and  this  was  still  further 
increased  by  his  indolent  habits,  which  was  the  cause  of 
much  good-humoured  raillery  on  the  part  of  his  friends. 
In  his  Epistle  to  Lord  Burlington,  describing  his  journey 
to  Exeter,  he  says  : — 

"  I  journey  far — you  knew  fat  bards  would  tire, 
And,  mounted,  sent  me  forth  your  trusty  squire." 

Swift,  in  a  letter  to  the  Duchess  of  Queensberry, 
writes: — "  You  need  not  be  in  pain  about  Mr.  Gay's  stock 
of  health ;  I  promise  you  he  will  spend  it  all  upon  laziness, 
and  run  deep  in  debt  by  a  winter's  repose  in  town; 
therefore,  I  entreat  your  Grace  will  order  him  to  move 
his  chaps  less  and  his  legs  more,  the  six  cold  months, 
else  he  will  spend  all  his  money  in  physic  and  coach- 

On  this,  Pope,  too,  writes  to  him  somewhat  in  the  same 
strain  : — u  Fenton  died  at  Easthampstead,  of  indolence 
and  inactivity ;  let  it  not  be  your  fate,  but  use  exercise. 
I  hope  the  Duchess  will  take  care  of  you  in  this  respect, 
and  either  make  you  gallop  after  her,  or  teize  you  enough 
at  home  to  serve  for  exercise  abroad." 

Many  other  extracts  might  be  given  from  the  letters 


50  LIFE    OF    JOHN    GAY. 

of  himself  and  his  friends  concerning  this  indolent  habit 
of  Gay's,  but  we  hasten  on  to  speak  of  his  other  weak- 
nesses. He  was,  in  his  early  life,  fond  of  dress,  although 
he  has  ridiculed  this  failing  in  his  prologue  to  the 
"Shepherd's  Week":— 

"  I  sold  my  sheep  and  lambkins,  too, 
For  silver  loops  and  garments  blue ; 
My  boxen  hautboy,  sweet  of  sound, 
For  lace  that  edged  mine  hat  around ; 
For  Lightfoot  and  my  scrip  I  got 
A  gorgeous  sword  and  eke  a  knot." 

In  a  letter  to  Swift,  Pope  also  alluded  to  this  failing  of 
Gay's.— (December  18th,  1713)  :— 

"One  Mr.  Gay,  an  unhappy  youth,  who  writes  pastorals 
during  the  time  of  divine  service ;  whose  case  is  the  more 
deplorable  as  he  hath  miserably  lavished  away  all  that 
silver  he  should  have  reserved  for  his  soul's  health  in 
buttons  and  loops  for  his  coat." 

Gay  was  of  a  roving  disposition,  and  never  happier  than 
when  he  was  rambling  about  from  place  to  place  in  the 
train  of  some  great  nobleman  or  Court  official. 

He  was  indiscreet  in  many  things,  but  he  had  an 
aversion  to  meanness.  He  hoped  to  gain  favour  at  Court, 
but  he  never  condescended  to  natter  either  princes  or  their 
ministers,  but  rather  to  hold  them  up  to  ridicule.  He 
was  of  an  independent  spirit,  and  could  not  bring  himself 
to  servile  flattery  even  to  gain  his  own  advancement.  In 
his  "Epistle  to  Paul  Methuen,"  he  thus  speaks  with  all  the 
dignity  of  independence  : — 

"  Why  flourish' d  verse  in  great  Augustus's  reign  ? 
He  and  Maecenas  lov'd  the  muse's  strain. 
But  now  that  night  in  poverty  must  mourn, 
Who  was  (0  cruel  stars  !)  a  poet  born. 
Yet  there  are  ways  for  authors  to  be  great ; 
Write  ranc'rous  libels  to  reform  the  state  : 
Or,  if  you  choose  more  sure  and  steady  ways, 
Spatter  a  minister  with  fulsome  praise ; 
Launch  out  with  freedom,  flatter  him  enough, 
Fear  not, — all  men  are  dedication  proof. 
Be  bolder  yet,  you  must  go  further  still, 
Dip  deep  in  gall  my  mercenary  quill. 
He  who  his  pen  in  party-quarrels  draws, 
Lifts  an  hir'd  bravo  to  support  the  cause  ; 

LIFE  OF   JOHN   GAY.  51 

He  must  indulge  his  patron's  hate  and  spleen, 
And  stab  the  fame  of  those  he  ne'er  had  seen. 
Why  then  should  authors  mourn  their  desp'rate  case  ? 
Be  brave,  do  this,  and  then  demand  a  place  : 
Why  art  thou  poor  ?  exert  the  gifts  to  rise, 
And  banish  tim'rous  virtue  from  thy  eyes." 

Gay's  genius  as  a  poet  was  certainly  not  of  the  highest 
order,  but  it  was  as  certainly  not  of  the  lowest :  although 
he  did  not  excel  in  the  higher  nights  of  poetry,  yet,  as  is 
proved  in  many  of  his  poems,  he  was  capable  of  uniting 
elevation  of  sentiment  with  dignity  of  language,  and  of 
describing  natural  beauties  with  the  power  of  an  artist. 

Certain  it  is  that  in  all  his  works  he  strove  to  give 
pleasure  rather  than  to  occasion  surprise,  and  we  may 
fairly  say,  in  giving  an  estimate  of  his  powers,  that  few 
poets  have  written  with  greater  success  on  a  variety  of 
subjects  than  Gay.  To  him  Tragedy,  Comedy,  Opera, 
Fable,  Moral,  Epic,  Rustic,  Town  Eclogue,  Pastoral, 
Poetic  Epistle,  and  Ballad  all  came  natural.  To  this 
extraordinary  variety  he  alludes  in  the  motto  prefixed  to 
his  poems,  with  which  we  conclude  our  dissertation : — 

"  Hie  jocamus,  ludimus,  amamus,  dolemus,  querimur, 
irascimur,  describimus  aliquid,  modo  pressius  modo  elatius  ; 
atque,  ipsd  varietate  tentamus  effic&re,  ut  alia  aliis,  quoedam 
fortasse  omnibus  placeant.1 

1  We  jest,  sport,  love,  weep,  complain,  are  angry ;  we  sometimes  com- 
press, at  other  times  dilate  the  subject ;  and  by  means  of  this  variety  we 
attempt  to  effect  that  different  parts  may  please  different  persons,  and 
that  some  things  may,  perhaps,  please  all. 


FA  B  L  E  S. 





REMOTE  from  cities  lived  a  Swain, 
Unvex'd  with  all  the  cares  of  gain ; 
His  head  was  silver'd  o'er  with  age, 
And  long  experience  made  him  sage ; 

1  This  introduction  to  the  Fables  is  exceedingly  beautiful,  and  contains 
a  very  useful  moral : — that  man  in  the  most  humble  state  may  improve 
himself  by  due  reflection  and  observation,  even  without  the  assistance  of 
learning ;  and  that  a  good  and  virtuous  mind  can  draw  a  love  of  virtue 
and  hatred  to  vice,  from  the  most  common  objects  of  nature. 



In  summer's  heat  and  winter's  cold 
He  fed  his  flock  and  penn'd  the  fold : 
His  hours  in  cheerful  labour  flew, 
Nor  envy  nor  ambition  knew : 
His  wisdom  and  his  honest  fame 
Through  all  the  country  raised  his  name. 

A  deep  Philosopher  (whose  rules 
Of  moral  life  were  drawn  from  schools) 
The  Shepherd's  homely  cottage  sought, 
And  thus  explored  his  reach  of  thought  : 

"  "Whence  is  thy  learning  ?  Hath  thy  toil 
O'er  books  consumed  the  midnight  oil  ?x 
Hast  thou  old  Greece  and  Eome  survey'd, 
And  the  vast  sense  of  Plato  weigh'd  ? 
Hath  Socrates  thy  soul  refined, 
And  hast  thou  fathom'd  Tully's  mind  ? 
Or,  like  the  wise  Ulysses,  thrown, 
By  various  fates,  on  realms  unknown, 
Hast  thou  through  many  cities  stray'd, 
Their  customs,  laws,  and  manners  weigh'd?" 

The  Shepherd  modestly  replied, — 
"  I  ne'er  the  paths  of  learning  tried ; 
Nor  have  I  roam'd  in  foreign  parts 
To  read  mankind,  their  laws  and  arts ; 
For  man  is  practised  in  disguise, 
He  cheats  the  most  discerning  eyes : 
Who  by  that  search  shall  wiser  grow, 
When  we  ourselves  can  never  know  ? 
The  little  knowledge  I  have  gain'd, 
Was  all  from  simple  Nature  drain'd ; 

Gay  in  another  work,  also  uses  this  expression : — 

"  Walkers  at  leisure,  learning's  flow'rs  may  spoil, 
Nor  watch  the  wasting  of  the  midnight  oil." 

—Trivia,  Book  n.  557-8. 


Hence  my  life's  maxims  took  their  rise, 
Hence  grew  my  settled  hate  to  vice. 

""The  daily  labours  of  the  bee 
Awake  my  soul  to  industry. 
Who  can  observe  the  careful  ant 
And  not  provide  for  future  want  ? 
My  dog  (the  trustiest  of  his  kind)  • 

With  gratitude  inflames  my  mind : 
I  mark  his  true,  his  faithful  way, 
And  in  my  service  copy  Tray. 
In  constancy  and  nuptial  love, 
I  learn  my  duty  from  the  dove. 
The  hen,  who  from  the  chilly  air, 
With  pious  wing,  protects  her  care, 
And  every  fowl  that  flies  at  large 
Instructs  me  in  a  parent's  charge. 

"  From  Nature,  too  I  take  my  rule, 
To  shun  contempt  and  ridicule. 
I  never,  with  important  air, 
In  conversation  overbear. 
Can  grave  and  formal  pass  for  wise, 
When  men  the  solemn  owl  despise  ? 
My  tongue  within  my  lips  I  rein, 
For  who  talks  much,  must  talk  in  vain. 
We  from  the  wordy  torrent  fly ; 
Who  listens  to  the  chatt'ring  pye  ? 
Nor  would  I,  with  felonious  sleight, 
By  stealth  invade  my  neighbour's  right. 
Rapacious  animals  we  hate : 
Kites,  hawks,  and  wolves,  deserve  their  fate. 
Do  not  we  just  abhorrence  find 
Against  the  toad  and  serpent  kind  ? 


But  Envy,  Calumny,  and  Spite, 
Bear  stronger  venom  in  their  "bite. 
Thus  every  object  of  creation 
Can  furnish  hints  to  contemplation, 
And  from  the  most  minute  and  mean, 
A  virtuous  mind  can  morals  glean." 

"  Thy  fame  is  just,"  the  Sage  replies, 
"  Thy  virtue  proves  thee  truely  wise. 
Pride  often  guides  the  author's  pen ; 
Books  as  affected  are  as  men : 
But  he  who  studies  Nature's  laws, 
From  certain  truth  his  maxims  draws ; 
And  those,  without  our  schools,  suffice 
To  make  men  moral,  good,  and  wise." 



ACCEPT,  young  Prince !  the  moral  lay, 
And  in  these  Tales  mankind  survey ; 
With  early  virtues  plant  your  breast, 
The  specious  arts  .of  vice  detest. 

Princes,  like  beauties,  from  their  youth, 
Are  strangers  to  the  voice  of  Truth.1 

1  As  Gay  wrote  these  fables  for  the  use  of  William,  Duke  of  Cumberland, 
second  son  of  the  Prince  of  Wales,  afterwards  George  II.,  by  desire  of 
Queen  Caroline,  he  very  properly  inscribes  them  to  the  young  prince  and 
warns  him  against  the  seductions  of  flattery,  the  common  vice  of  courts, 
and  inculcates,  from  the  example  of  the  lion,  compassion,  mercy,  and  the 
love  of  justice:  virtues  congenial  to  noble  and  generous  minds. 



Learn  to  contemn  all  praise  betimes, 
For  flattery's  the  nurse  of  crimes ; 
Friendship  by  sweet  reproof  is  shown  ; 
(A  virtue  never  near  a  throne ;) 
In  courts  such  freedom  must  offend ; 
There,  none  presumes  to  be  a  friend.1 
To  those  of  your  exalted  station, 
Each  courtier  is  a  dedication. 
Must  I,  too,  flatter  like  the  rest, 
And  turn  my  morals  to  a  jest  ? 
The  Muse  disdains  to  steal  from  thoss 
Who  thrive  in  courts  by  fulsome  prosu. 

But  shall  I  hide  your  real  praise, 
Or  tell  you  what  a  nation  says  ? — 
They  in  your  infant  bosom  trace 
The  virtues  of  your  royal  race ; 
In  the  fair  dawning  of  your  mind 
Discern  you  generous,  mild,  and  kind ; 
They  see  you  grieve  to  hear  distress, 
And  pant  already  to  redress. 
Go  on,  the  height  of  good  attain, 
Nor  let  a  nation  hope  in  vain : 
For  hence  we  justly  may  presage 
The  virtues  of  a  riper  age. 
True  courage  shall  your  bosom  fire, 
And  future  actions  own  your  sire. 
Cowards  are  cruel,  but  the  brave 
'.Love  mercy,  and  delight  to  save.2 

1  "  Nothing  misbecomes 

The  man  that  be  thought  a  friend,  like  flattery."— KOWE. 
Vide  also  Shakespeare,  King  Lear,  Act  iv.  Sc.  6.— OWEN. 

a  The  old  habit  is  too  strong  for  eradication ;  Gay  falls  into  the  language 
of  courts,  just  after  he  had  repudiated  it.— OWEN. 


A  Tiger,  roaming  for  his  prey, 
Sprung  on  a  Traveller  in  the  way ; 
The  prostrate  game  a  Lion  spies, 
And  on  the  greedy  tyrant  flies : 
With  mingled  roar  resounds  the  wood, 
Their  teeth,  their  claws,  distil  with  blood  ; 
Till,  vanquish'd  by  the  Lion's  strength, 
The  spotted  foe  extends  his  length. 
The  Man  besought  the  shaggy  lord, 
And  on  his  knees  for  life  implored : 
His  life  the  generous  hero  gave. 
Together  walking  to  his  cave, 
The  Lion  thus  bespoke  his  guest  : 

"  What  hardy  beast  shall  dare  contest 
My  matchless  strength  ?  you  saw  the  fight, 
And  must  attest  my  power  and  right. 
Forced  to  forego  their  native  home, 
My  starving  slaves  at  distance  roam. 
Within  these  woods  I  reign  alone ; 
The  boundless  forest  is  my  own. 
Bears,  wolves,  and  all  the  savage  brood 
Have  dyed  the  regal  den  with  blood. 
These  carcases  on  either  hand, 
Those  bones  that  whiten  all  the  land, 
My  former  deeds  and  triumphs  tell, 
Beneath  these  jaws  what  numbers  fell." 

"  True,"  says  the  man,  "  the  strength  I  saw 
Might  well  the  brutal  nation  awe : 
But  shall  a  monarch,  brave,  like  you, 
Place  glory  in  so  false  a  view  ? 
Eobbers  invade  their  neighbour's  right : 
Be  loved :  let  justice  bound  your  might. 


Mean  are  ambitious  heroes'  boasts 
Of  wasted  lands,  and  slaughter'd  hosts : 
Pirates  their  power  by  murders  gain ; 
Wise  kings  by  love  and  mercy  reign. 
To  me  your  clemency  hath  shown 
The  virtue  worthy  of  a  throne. 
Heav'n  gives  you  power  above  the  rest, 
Like  Heav'n,  to  succour  the  distrest." 

"  The  case  is  plain,"  the  Monarch  said, 
"  False  glory  hath  my  youth  misled ; 
For  beasts  of  prey,  a  servile  train, 
Have  been  the  flatterers  of  my  reign. 
You  reason  well.     Yet  tell  me,  friend, 
Did  ever  you  in  courts  attend  ? 
For  all  my  fawning  rogues  agree 
That  human  heroes  rule  like  me."1 

i  Vide  Shakespeare,  Merchant  of  renice,  Act  iv.  Sc.  1. 



A  SPANIEL,  bred  with  all  the  care 
That  waits  upon  a  favourite  heir, 
Ne'er  felt  correction's  rigid  hand ; 
Indulged  to  disobey  command, 
In  pamper'd  ease  his  hours  were  spent ; 
He  never  knew  what  learning  meant. 



Such  forward  airs,  so  pert,  so  smart, 
Were  sure  to  win  his  lady's  heart ; 
Each  little  mischief  gain'd  him  praise. 
How  pretty  were  his  fawning  ways  1 

The  wind  was  south,  the  morning  fair, 
He  ventures  forth  to  take  the  air ; 
He  ranges  all  the  meadow  round, 
And  rolls  upon  the  softest  ground  ; 
When  near  him  a  Chameleon  seen, 
Was  scarce  distinguish'd  from  the  green. 

"  Dear  emblem  of  the  flattering  host ! 
What,  live  with  clowns !  a  genius  lost ! 
To  cities  and  the  court  repair ; 
A  fortune  cannot  fail  thee  there  : 
Preferment  shall  thy  talents  crown  ; 
Believe  me,  friend ;  I  know  the  town/' 

"  Sir,"  says  the  Sycophant,  "  like  you, 
Of  old,  politer  life  I  knew ; 
Like  you,  a  courtier  born  and  bred, 
Kings  lean'd  their  ear  to  what  I  said : 
My  whisper  always  met  success ; 
The  ladies  praised  me  for  address ; 
I  knew  to  hit  each  courtier's  passion, 
And  flattered  every  vice  in  fashion ; 
But  Jove,  who  hates  the  liar's  ways, 
At  once  cut  short  my  prosp'rous  days, 
And,  sentenced  to  retain  my  nature, 
Transform'd  me  to  this  crawling  creature. 
Doom'd  to  a  life  obscure  and  mean, 
I  wander  in  the  sylvan  scene : 
For  Jove  the  heart  alone  regards ; 
He  punishes  what  man  rewards. 


How  different  is  thy  case  and  mine  ? 
With  men  at  least  you  sup  and  dine ; 
While  I,  condemn'd  to  thinnest  fare, 
Like  those  I  flatter'd,  feed  on  air."1 

1  The  common  tradition  of  the  Chameleon  living  upon  air  is  contrary 
to  experience.  The  raillery  at  court  sycophants  naturally  pervades 
Gay's  writings,  for  he  had  suffered  much  from  them :  here,  however,  he 
intimates  something  more ;  namely,  the  opposite  dispensations  to  men's 
acts,  even  in  this  world.  The  crafty  is  taken  in  his  own  guile,  the  courtier 
falls  by  his  own  arts,  and  the  ladder  of  ambition  only  prepares  for  the 
aspirant  a  further  fall. 



"  GIYE  me  a  son ! " — The  blessing  sent, 
Were  ever  parents  more  content  ? 
How  partial  are  their  doting  eyes  ? 
No  child  is  half  so  fair  and  wise.1 

1  Montaigne  says: -"I  never  yet  saw  that  father  who,  let  his  son  be 
never  BO  decrepit  or  scaldpated,  would  not  own  him ;  not  but  that,  unless 
he  were  totally  besotted  and  blinded  with  his  paternal  affection,  he  does 
not  well  enough  discern  his  defects,  but  because,  notwithstanding  all  his 
faults,  he  is  still  his."— OWEN. 



Wak'd  to  the  morning's  pleasing  care, 
The  Mother  rose,  and  sought  her  heir  : 
She  saw  the  Nurse  like  one  possessed, 
With  wringing  hands  and  sobbing  breast. 

"  Sure  some  disaster  has  befell : 
Speak,  Nurse  ;  I  hope  the  boy  is  well." 

"Dear  Madam, 'think  not  me  to  blame, 
Invisible  the  Fairy  came : 
Your  precious  babe  is  hence  convey'd, 
And  in  the  place  a  changeling  laid. 
Where  are  the  father's  mouth  and  nose  ? 
The  mother's  eyes,  as  black  as  sloes  ? 
See,  here,  a  shocking  awkward  creature, 
That  speaks  a  fool  in  every  feature." 

"  The  woman's  blind,"  the  Mother  cries, 
"  I  see  wit  sparkle  in  his  eyes." 

"  Lord,  Madam,  what  a  squinting  leer  ! 
No  doubt  the  Fairy  hath  been  here." 

Just  as  she  spoke,  a  pigmy  sprite 
Pops  through  the  keyhole  swift  as  light ; 
Perch'd  on  the  cradle's  top  he  stands, 
And  thus  her  folly  reprimands. 

"  Whence  sprung  the  vain  conceited  lie, 
That  we  the  world  with  fools  supply  ? 
What !  give  our  sprightly  race  away 
For  the  dull  helpless  sons  of  clay ! — 
Besides,  by  partial  fondness  shown, 
Like  you,  we  dote  upon  our  own. 
Where  yet  was  ever  found  a  Mother l 
Who'd  give  her  booby  for  another  ? 

i  The  care  of  parents  for  their  offspring  is  well  exemplified  in  this 



And  should  we  change  for  human  breed, 
Well  might  we  pass  for  fools  indeed."  x 

i  The  application  of  this  fable  is  twofold ;  for  whilst  it  slightly  touches, 
by  inference,  the  short-sightedness  of  human  wishes,  ic  also  alludes  to 
the  false  judgment  which  parental  fondness  forms,  of  juvenile  error. 
The  severe  sarcasm  passed  by  the  fairy  upon  mortal  infirmity  is  as  true 
as  the  readiness  with  which  we  allow  a  reason  to  operate  in  our  own 
case,  and  forbid  it  in  another's,  is  frequent.— OWEN. 



As  Jupiter's  all-seeing  eye 
Survey'd  the  worlds  beneath  the  sky, 
From  this  small  speck  of  earth  were  sent 
Murmurs  and  sounds  of  discontent.! 
For  everything  alive  complain'd 
That  he  the  hardest  life  sustain'd. 

1  Nothing  is  more  common  than  to  be  discontented  with  our  own  lot 
and  to  envy  the  situation  of  others,  though  nothing  can  be  more  unjust. 
To  condemn  and  ridicule  this  species  of  discontent  and  envy  is  the  pur- 
pose of  this  fable,  and  to  ehow  that  no  one  would  accept  the  offer  of 
changing  situations.  Horace,  before  Gay,  has  exposed  this  foible,  except 
that  he  introduces  Jupiter  as  offering  to  men  the  power  of  changing  their 
state;  Gay  applies  it  to  animals. 


Jove  calls  his  eagle.    At  the  word 
Before  him  stands  the  royal  bird. 
The  bird,  obedient,  from  heaven's  height, 
Downward  directs  his  rapid  flight ; 
Then  cited  every  living  thing 
To  hear  the  mandates  of  his  king. 

"  Ungrateful  creatures !  whence  arise 
These  murmurs  which  offend  the  skies ; 
Why  this  disorder  ?  say  the  cause ; 
For  just  are  Jove's  eternal  laws. 
Let  each  his  discontent  reveal : 
To  yon  sour  Dog  I  first  appeal." 

"  Hard  is  my  lot,"  the  Hound  replies, 
"  On  what  fleet  nerves  the  Greyhound  flies ; 
While  I,  with  weary  step  and  slow, 
O'er  plains,  and  vales,  and  mountains  go. 
The  morning  sees  my  chase  begun, 
Nor  ends  it  till  the  setting  sun." 

"  When,"  says  the  Greyhound,  "  I  pursue, 
My  game  is  lost,  or  caught  in  view ; 
Beyond  my  sight  the  prey's  secure ; 
The  hound  is  slow,  but  always  sure ; 
And  had  I  his  sagacious  scent, 
Jove  ne'er  had  heard  my  discontent." 
The  Lion  craved  the  Fox's  art ; 
The  Fox  the  Lion's  force  and  heart : 
The  Cock  implored  the  Pigeon's  flight, 
Whose  wings  were  rapid,  strong,  and  light ; 
The  Pigeon  strength  of  wing  despised, 
And  the  Cock's  matchless  valour  prized : 
The  Fishes  wished  to  graze  the  plain, 
The  Beasts  to  skim  beneath  the  main : 


Thus,  envious  of  another's  state, 
Each  blamed  the  partial  hand  of  Fate. 

The  Bird  of  Heaven 1  then  cried  aloud 
"  Jove  bids  disperse  the  murmuring  crowd ; 
The  God  rejects  your  idle  prayers. 
Would  ye,  rebellious  mutineers ! 
Entirely  change  your  name  and  nature, 
And  be  the  very  envied  creature  ? — 
What,  silent  all,  and  none  consent  ? 
Be  happy  then,  and  learn  content ; 
Nor  imitate  the  restless  mind, 
And  proud  ambition  of  mankind." 

1  "  Jovis  ales."— VIKGII/. 




AGAINST  an  elm  a  sheep  was  tied, 
The  butcher's  knife  in  blood  was  dyed; 
The  patient  flock,  in  silent  fright, 
From  far  beheld  the  horrid  sight : 
A  savage  Boar,  who  near  them  stood, 
Thus  mock'd  to  scorn  the  fleecy  brood. 

"  All  cowards  should  be  served  like  you. 
See,  see,  your  murd'rer  is  in  view : 
With  purple  hands,  and  reeking  knife, 
He  strips  the  skin  yet  warm  with  life. 

THE  WILD  BOAR  AND  THE  RAM.        73 

Your  quarter'd  sires,  your  bleeding  dams, 
The  dying  bleat  of  harmless  lambs, 
Call  for  revenge.     0  stupid  race ! 
The  heart  that  wants  revenge  is  base." 

"  I  grant,"  an  ancient  Earn  replies, 
"  We  bear  no  terror  in  our  eyes ; 
Yet  think  us  not  of  soul  so  tame, 
Which  no  repeated  wrongs  inflame ; 
Insensible  of  every  ill, 
Because  we  want  thy  tusks  to  kill. 
Know,  those  who  violence  pursue, 
Give  to  themselves  the  vengeance  due ; 
For  in  these  massacres  they  find 
The  two  chief  plagues  that  waste  mankind 
Our  skin  supplies  the  wrangling  bar, 
It  wakes  their  slumbering  sons  to  war ; 
And  well  revenge  may  rest  contented, 
Since  drums  and  parchment  were  invented."1 

i  Parchment,  which  is  so  much  used  by  lawyers,  whom  Gay  calls 
the  wrangling  bar,  is  made  from  sheep's  skin;  but  drums  are  usually 
covered  with  vellum,  which  is  only  parchment  made  of  the  skin  of  calves  : 
It  has  a  much  finer  grain.    Gay  observes  in  his  "  Trivia  "— 
"  Here  rows  of  drummers  stand  in  martial  file, 
And  with  their  vellum  thunder  shake  the  pile." 

Book  H.  p.  17-18. 



THE  wind  was  high,  the  window  shakes, 
With  sudden  start  the  Miser  wakes ; 
Along  the  silent  room  he  stalks, 
Looks  back,  and  trembles  as  he  walks. 
Each  lock  and  every  bolt  he  tries, 
In  every  creek  and  corner  pries ; 
Then  opes  the  chest  with  treasure  stored, 
And  stands  in  rapture  o'er  his  hoard : 
But  now  with  sudden  qualms  possest, 
He  wrings  his  hands  he  beats  his  breast ; 


By  conscience  stung  he  wildly  stares, 

And  thus  his  guilty  soul  declares : 

"  Had  the  deep  earth  her  stores  confined. 

This  heart  had  known  sweet  peace  of  mind. 

But  virtue's  sold.     Good  gods  !  what  price 

Can  recompense  the  pangs  of  vice ! 

O  bane  of  good !  seducing  cheat ! 

Can  man,  weak  man,  thy  power  defeat  ? 

Gold  banish'd  honour  from  the  mind, 

And  only  left  the  name  behind ; 

Gold  sow'd  the  world  with  every  ill ; 

Gold  taught  the  murderer's  sword  to  kill : 

'Twas  gold  instructed  coward  hearts 

In  treachery's  more  pernicious  arts. 

Who  can  recount  the  mischiefs  o'er  ? 

Virtue  resides  on  earth  no  more ! " — 

He  spoke,  and  sigh'd. — In  angry  mood 

Plutus,  his  god,  before  him  stood. 
The  Miser,  trembling,  lock'd  his  chest ; 
The  vision  f rown'd,  and  thus  address'd : — 

"  Whence  is  this  vile  ungrateful  rant, 
Each  sordid  rascal's  daily  cant  ? 
Did  I,  base  wretch !  corrupt  mankind  ? — 
The  fault's  in  thy  rapacious  mind. 
Because  my  blessings  are  abused, 
Must  I  be  censured,  cursed,  accused  ? 
Ev'n  Virtue's  self  by  knaves  is  made 
A  cloak  to  carry  on  the  trade ; 
And  power  (when  lodged  in  their  possession) 
Grows  tyranny,  and  rank  oppression. 
Thus,  when  the  villain  crams  his  chest, 
Gold  is  the  canker  of  the  breast ; 


'Tis  avarice,  insolence,  and  pride, 
And  every  shocking  vice  beside ; 
But  when  to  virtuous  hands  'tis  given,1 
It  blesses,  like  the  dews  of  Heaven ; 
Like  Heaven,  it  hears  the  orphan's  cries, 
And  wipes  the  tears  from  widows'  eyes. 
Their  crimes  on  gold  shall  misers  lay, 
Who  pawn'd  their  sordid  souls  for  pay  ? 
Let  bravos,  then,  when  blood  is  spilt, 
Upbraid  the  passive  sword  with  guilt." 

i  These  beautiful  and  feeling  lines  cannot  be  too  often  read  and  followed 
by  persons  in  affluent  circumstances ;  they  show  that  although  there  is 
no  gift  of  heaven  which  may  not  be  ill  employed,  yet  that  its  proper  use  by 
some,  amply  compensates  for  its  abuse  by  others ;  and  the  Fable  strongly 
inculcates  this  useful  moral,  that  we  are  not  to  argue  from  the  abuse  of  any- 
thing against  its  use. 



A  LION,  tired  with  state  affairs, 
Quite  sick  of  pomp,  and  worn  with  cares, 
Kesolv'd  (remote  from  noise  and  strife) 
In  peace  to  pass  his  latter  life.1 

It  was  proclaimed ;  the  day  was  set : — 
Behold  the  general  council  met. 

1  The  indolence  of  increasing  years  is  frequently  mistaken  for  resigna- 
tion, and  the  apathy  of  age  often  passes  for  the  self-denial  of  philosophy. 
Men  conceal  the  real  nature  of  vice  and  virtue,  as  they  do  the  powers  of 
certain  half-known  drugs— by  fine  names.— OWEN. 



The  Fox  was  Viceroy  named ;  the  crowd 
To  the  new  Eegent  humbly  bow'd. 
Wolves,  bears,  and  mighty  tigers  bend, 
And  strive  who  most  shall  condescend. 
He  straight  assumes  a  solemn  grace, 
Collects  his  wisdom-in  his  face : 
The  crowd  admire  his  wit,  his  sense ; 
Each  word  hath  weight  and  consequence. 
The  flatterer  all  his  art  displays : 
He  who  hath  power  is  sure  of  praise  ! 
A  Fox  stept  forth  before  the  rest, 
And  thus  the  servile  throng  addrest : 

"  How  vast  his  talents,  born  to  rule, 
And  train'd  in  Virtue's  honest  school ! 
What  clemency  his  temper  sways ! 
How  uncorrupt  are  all  his  ways ! 
Beneath  his  conduct  and  command 
Rapine  shall  cease  to  waste  the  land. 
His  brain  hath  stratagem  and  art ; 
Prudence  and  mercy  rule  his  heart. 
What  blessings  must  attend  the  nation 
Under  this  good  administration ! " 

He  said.    A  Goose,  who  distant  stood, 
Harangued  apart  the  cackling  brood. 

"  Whene'er  I  hear  a  knave  commend, 
He  bids  me  shun  his  worthy  friend. 
What  praise,  what  mighty  commendation ! 
But  'twas  a  Fox  who  spoke  th'  oration. 
Foxes  this  government  may  prize 
As  gentle,  plentiful,  and  wise ; 
If  they  enjoy  the  sweets,  'tis  plain 
We  Geese  must  feel  a  tyrant-reign. 


What  havoc  now  shall  thin  our  race, 
When  every  petty  clerk  in  place, 
To  prove  his  taste,  and  seem  polite, 
Will  feed  on  Geese  both  noon  and  night !  "l 

i  The  observation  of  Lear  admirably  portrays  the  sycophancy  of  satel- 
lites to  men  in  power  :— 

"Lear.  Thou  hast  seen  a  farmer's  dog  bark  at  a  beggar? 

Glo.  Ay,  sir. 

Lear.  And  the  creature  run  from  the  cur?  There  thou  might'st  behold 
the  great  image  of  authority :  a  dog's  obeyed  in  office !  "—OWEN. 



WHAT  whispers  must  the  Beauty  bear ! 
What  hourly  nonsense  haunts  her  ear ! 
Where'er  her  eyes  dispense  their  charms, 
Impertinence  around  her  swarms. 
Did  not  the  tender  nonsense  strike, 
Contempt  and  scorn  might  look  dislike ; 
Forbidding  airs  might  thin  the  place, 
The  slightest  flap  a  fly  can  chase : 
But  who  can  drive  the  num'rous  breed  ? — 
Chase  one,  another  will  succeed ; 


THE  LADY  AND  THE  WASP.          81 

Who  knows  a  fool,  must  know  his  brother ; 
One  fop  will  recommend  another : 
And  with  this  plague  she's  rightly  curst, 
Because  she  listen'd  to  the  first. 

As  Doris,  at  her  toilette's  duty, 
Sat  meditating  on  her  beauty, 
She  now  was  pensive,  now  was  gay, 
And  loll'd  the  sultry  hours  away. 

As  thus  in  indolence  she  lies, 
A  giddy  Wasp  around  her  flies ; 
He  now  advances,  now  retires, 
Now  to  her  neck  and  cheek  aspires. 
Her  fan  in  vain  defends  her  charms, 
Swift  he  returns,  again  alarms ; 
For  by  repulse  he  bolder  grew, 
Perch'd  on  her  lip,  and  sipt  the  dew.        [cries, 

She  frowns, — she  frets.      "  Good  gods  ! "  she 
"  Protect  me  from  these  teazing  flies : 
Of  all  the  plagues  that  heaven  hath  sent, 
A  Wasp  is  most  impertinent." 

The  hovering  insect  thus  complain'd, — 
"  Am  I  then  slighted,  scorn'd,  disdain'd  ? 
Can  such  offence  your  anger  wake  ? 
'Twas  beauty  caused  the  bold  mistake. 
Those  cherry  lips  that  breathe  perfume, 
That  cheek  so  ripe  with  youthful  bloom, 
Made  me  with  strong  desire  pursue 
The  fairest  peach  that  ever  grew." 

"  Strike  him  not,  Jenny ! "  Doris  cries, 
"  Nor  murder  Wasps  like  vulgar  flies ; 
Tor  though  he's  free  (to  do  him  right), 
The  creature's  civil  and  polite. 


In  ecstasies,  away  he  posts  ; 
Where'er  he  came,  the  favour  boasts ; 
Brags,  how  her  sweetest  tea  he  sips, 
And  shows  the  sugar  on  his  lips. 

The  hint  alarm'd  the  forward  crew 
Sure  of  success,  away  they  flew : 
They  share  the  dainties  of  the  day, 
Eound  her  with  airy  music  play : 
And  now  they  flutter,  now  they  rest, 
Now  soar  again,  and  skim  her  breast. 
Nor  were  they  banish'd  till  she  found 
That  Wasps  have  stings,  and  felt  the  wound. 



SEEK  you  to  train  your  favourite  boy  ? 
Each  caution,  every  care  employ ; 
And  ere  you  venture  to  confide, 
Let  his  preceptor's  heart  be  tried : 
Weigh  well  his  manners,  life,  and  scope ; 
On  these  depends  thy  future  hope. 
As  on  a  time,  in  peaceful  reign, 
A  Bull  enjoy'd  the  flowery  plain, 
A  Mastiff  pass'd ;  inflamed  with  ire, 
His  eyeballs  shot  indignant  fire ; 

83  6 — 2 


He  foam'd,  he  raged  with  thirst  of  blood, — 

— Spurning  the  ground,  the  monarch  stood, 

And  roar'd  aloud :  "  Suspend  the  fight ; 

In  a  whole  skin  go  sleep  to-night ; 

Or  tell  me,  ere  the  battle  rage, 

What  wrongs  provoke  thee  to  engage  ? 

Is  it  ambition  fires  thy  breast, 

Or  avarice,  that  ne'er  can  rest  ? 

From  these  alone  unjustly  springs 

The  world-destroying  wrath  of  kings." 

The  surly  Mastiff  thus  returns : 
"  Within  my  bosom,  glory  burns. 
Like  heroes  of  eternal  name, 
Whom  poets  sing,  I  fight  for  fame. 
The  butcher's  spirit-stirring  mind 
To  daily  war  my  youth  inclined  ; 
He  train'd  me  to  heroic  deed, 
Taught  me  to  conquer  or  to  bleed." 

"  Curs'd  Dog,"  the  Bull  replied,  "  no  more 
I  wonder  at  thy  thirst  of  gore  ; 
For  thou  beneath  a  butcher  train'd, 
Whose  hands  with  cruelty  are  stain'd, 
His  daily  murders  in  thy  view 
Must,  like  thy  tutor,  blood  pursue. 
Take,  then,  thy  fate !  "    With  goring  wound 
At  once  he  lifts  him  from  the  ground : 
Aloft  the  sprawling  hero  flies, 
Mangled  he  falls,  he  howls,  and  dies.1 

i  The  following  lines  from  Dryden's  translation  of  Juvenal,  illustrate 
the  application  of  this  fable:— 

"  Children  like  tender  osiers  take  the  bow, 
And  as  they  first  are  fashion'd  always  grow, 
For  what  we  learn  in  youth,  to  that  alone 
In  age,  we  are  by  second  nature,  prone." 

It  is  similar  to  the  fable  in  Msop,  where  the  man  about  to  be  executed 
for  a  crime,  bites  his  mother's  ear  off,  when  pretending  to  kiss  her, 
because  she  had  not  corrected  him  for  a  theft  when  a  boy.— OWEN. 



THE  man  who  with  undaunted  toils 
Sails  unknown  seas  to  unknown  soils, 
With  various  wonders  feasts  his  sight : 
"What  stranger  wonders  does  he  write  ? 
We  read,  and  in  description  view 
Creatures  which  Adam  never  knew ; 

1  It  must  be  confessed,  that  it  is  a  high  breach  of  probability,  to 
introduce  an  elephant  into  a  bookseller's  shop;  the  author  felt  the 
objection,  and  has  endeavoured,  in  some  measure,  to  apologize  for  it  by 
observing  that  travellers  often  see  and  describe  wonderful  objects,  which 
are  not  the  less  true  because  they  are  uncommon.  Birds  and  beasts,  in 
the  language  of  fable,  may  be  supposed  to  talk,  but  an  elephant  in  a 
bookseller's  shop  must  be  acknowledged  to  be  too  forced  and  unnatural 
a  conceit. 



For  when  we  risk  no  contradiction, 

It  prompts  the  tongue  to  deal  in  fiction. 

Those  things  that  startle  me  or  you, 

I  grant  are  strange,  yet  may  be  true. 

Who  doubts  that  Elephants  are  found 

For  science  and  for  sense  renown'd  ? 

Borri  records  their  strength  of  parts,1 

Extent  of  thought,  and  skill  in  arts ; 

How  they  perform  the  law's  decrees, 

And  save  the  state,  the  hangman's  fees ; 2 

And  how  by  travel  understand 

The  language  of  another  land. 

Let  those  who  question  this  report, 

To  Pliny's  ancient  page  resort.s 

How  learn'd  was  that  sagacious  breed  ! 

Who  now  (like  them),  the  Greek  can  read  ? 

As  one  of  these,  in  days  of  yore, 
Rummaged  a  shop  of  learning  o'er ; 
Not,  like  our  modern  dealers,  minding 
Only  the  margin's  breadth  and  binding ; 
A  book  his  curious  eye  detains, 
Where,  with  exactest  care  and  pains, 
Were  every  beast  and  bird  portray'd, 
That  e'er  the  search  of  man  survey'd ; 
Their  natures  and  their  powers  were  writ 
With  all  the  pride  of  human  wit. 
The  page,  he,  with  attention  spread, 
And  thus  remark'd  on  what  he  read : — 

1  Borri  was  a  Milanese  quack. 

2  In  some  parts  of  India,  Elephants  are  employed  in  putting  criminals 
to  death,  by  trampling  on  them.    Hence  Gay  says :  and  sava  the  hang- 
man'8  fees. 

s  Pliny  the  elder  was  the  author  of  a  work  upon  Natural  History,  in 
which  he  relates  many  fabulous  stories,  including  some  very  remarkable 
statements  respecting  the  Elephant. 


"  Man  with  strong  reason  is  endow'd, 
A  beast,  scarce  instinct  is  allow'd : 
But  let  this  author's  worth  be  tried, 
Tis  plain  that  neither  was  his  guide. 
Can  he  discern  the  different  natures, 
And  weigh  the  power  of  other  creatures, 
Who  by  the  partial  work  hath  shown, 
He  knows  so  little  of  his  own  ? 
How  falsely  is  the  spaniel  drawn  ! 
Did  man  from  him,  first  learn  to  fawn  ? 
A  dog, — proficient  in  the  trade, — 
He,  the  chief  flatterer  Nature  made  ? 
Go,  Man  !  the  ways  of  courts  discern, 
You'll  find  a  spaniel  still  might  learn. 
How  can  the  fox's  theft  and  plunder 
Provoke  his  censure  or  his  wonder  ? 
From  courtiers'  tricks  and  lawyers'  arts, 
The  fox  might  well  improve  his  parts. 
The  lion,  wolf,  and  tiger's  brood, 
He  curses,  for  their  thirst  of  blood : 
But  is  not  man  to  man  a  prey  ? 
Beasts  kill  for  hunger,  men  for  pay." 

The  Bookseller,  who  heard  him  speak, 
And  saw  him  turn  a  page  of  Greek, 
Thought,  "  What  a  genius  have  I  found ! " 
Then  thus  address'd  with  bow  profound : 

"  Learn'd  Sir,  if  you'd  employ  your  pen 
Against  the  senseless  sons  of  men, 
Or  write  the  history  of  Siam, 
No  man  is  better  pay  than  I  am ; 
Or,  since  you're  learn'd  in  Greek,  let's  see 
Something  against  the  Trinity." 


When  wrinkling  with  a  sneer,  his  trunk, 
"  Friend,"  quoth  the  Elephant,  "  you're  drunk ; 
E'en  keep  your  money,  and  be  wise ; 
Leave  man  on  man,  to  criticise ! 
For  that  you  ne'er  can  want  a  pen, 
Among  the  senseless  sons  of  men. 
They  unprovok'd,  will  court  the  fray : 
Envy's  a  sharper  spur  than  pay. 
No  author  ever  spared  a  brother ; 
Wits  are  game-cocks,  to  one  another,1 

i  The  above  fable,  like  many  of  our  poet's,  is  rather  a  compilation  of 
sarcastic  exposures  of  several  faults,  than  an  application  to  one ;  never- 
theless the  envious  rivalry  of  authors,  and  the  illiberality  of  critics,  are 
particularly  exposed.  No  society  is  generally  such  a  combination,  open 
or  concealed,  of  envy,  hatred,  and  malice,  as  a  society  of  professed  wits, 
or  popular  critics.  The  ignorance  of  the  latter  order  has  been  well 
exposed  by  Lord  Byron  in  his  English  Bards  and  Scotch  Reviewers :  their 
illiberality  is  amusingly  reproved  in  the  following  story  from  Boccalini. 

"A  famous  critic,"  says  he,  "having  collected  all  the  faults  of  an 
eminent  poet,  presented  them  to  Apollo  who,  wishing  to  make  a  suitable 
return,  desired  the  donor  to  pick  the  chaff  from  the  corn  in  a  sack  of 
wheat  which  had  just  been  thrashed  out.  The  critic  having  completed 
the  task  with  great  industry  and  pleasure,  Apollo  presented  him  with,— 
the  chaff  for  his  trouble." — OWEN. 



IN  beauty,  faults  conspicuous  grow ; 
The  smallest  speck  is  seen  on  snow. 

As  near  a  barn,  by  hunger  led, 
A  Peacock  with  the  poultry  fed, 
All  view'd  him  with  an  envious  eye, 
And  mock'd  his  gaudy  pageantry. 


He,  conscious  of  superior  merit, 
Contemns  their  base  reviling  spirit ; 
His  state  and  dignity  assumes, 
And  to  the  sun  displays  his  plumes, 
Which,  like  the  heaven's  o'er-arching  skies, 
Are  spangled  with  a  thousand  eyes, 
The  circling  rays,  and  varied  light, 
At  once  confound  their  dazzled  sight ; 
On  every  tongue  detraction  burns, 
And  malice  prompts  their  spleen  by  turns. 

"  Mark  with  what  insolence  and  pride 
The  creature  takes  his  haughty  stride," — 
The  Turkey  cries.     "  Can  spleen  contain  ? 
Sure  never  bird  was  half  so  vain ; 
But  were  intrinsic  merit  seen, 
We  Turkeys  have  the  whiter  skin." 

From  tongue  to  tongue  they  caught  abuse, 
And  next  was  heard  the  hissing  Goose : 
"  What  hideous  legs !  what  filthy  claws ! 
I  scorn  to  censure  little  flaws ; 
Then  what  a  horrid  squalling  throat ! 
Ev'n  owls  are  frighted  at  the  note." 

"  True :  those  are  faults,"  the  Peacock  cries, 
"  My  scream,  my  shanks,  you  may  despise ; 
But  such  blind  critics  rail  in  vain ; 
What,  overlook  my  radiant  train  ! 
Know,  did  my  legs  (your  scorn  and  sport), 
The  Turkey,  or  the  Goose,  support, 
And  did  ye  scream  with  harsher  sound, 
Those  faults  in  you,  had  ne'er  been  found  : 
To  all  apparent  beauties  blind, 
Each  blemish  strikes  an  envious  mind." 


Thus  in  assemblies  have  I  seen 
A  nymph,  of  brightest  charms  and  mien, 
Wake  envy  in  each  ugly  face, 
And  buzzing  scandal  fills  the  place.i 

i  The  moral  here  is  applied  to  one  species  of  envy  alone,  that  of  beauty 
bat  the  fable  may  be  referred  to  every  kind  of  it  equally.  Scandal  is  like 
a  snail,  which  crawls  over  the  loveliest  fruit,  aud  ieeds  on  that  which  its 
own  venom  has  first  made  foul ! — OWEN. 



As  Cupid  in  Cy thera's  grove l 
Employ'd  the  lesser  powers  of  Love ; 
Some  shape  the  bow,  or  fit  the  string, 
Some  give  the  taper  shaft  its  wing, 
Or  turn  the  polish'd  quiver's  mould, 
Or  head  the  darts  with  temper'd  gold. 

Amidst  their  toil  and  various  care 
Thus  Hymen,  with  assuming  air, 

i  Cythera,  an  island  not  far  from  Crete,  in  the  Archipelago,  sacred  to 
Venus,  from  whence  she  was  called  Cythera. 


Address'd  the  god  :  "  Thou  purblind  chit, 
Of  awkward  and  ill-judging  wit, 
If  matches  are  no  better  made, 
At  once  I  must  forswear  my  trade 
You  send  me  such  ill-coupled  folks, 
That  'tis  a  shame  to  sell  them  yokes. 
They  squabble  for  a  pin,  a  feather, 
And  wonder  how  they  came  together. 
The  husband's  sullen,  dogged,  shy, 
The  wife  grows  flippant  in  reply : 
He  loves  command  and  due  restriction, 
And  she  as  well  likes  contradiction : 
She  never  slavishly  submits, 
She'll  have  her  will,  or  have  her  fits. 
He  this  way  tugs,  she  t'other  draws ; 
The  man  grows  jealous,  and  with  cause ; 
Nothing  can  save  him  but  divorce, 
And  here  the  wife  complies  of  course." 

"  When,"  says  the  boy,  "  had  I  to  do 
With  either  your  affairs,  or  you  ? 
I  never  idly  spend  my  darts  : 
You  trade  in  mercenary  hearts. 
For  settlements  the  lawyer's  fee'd ; 
Is  my  hand  witness  to  the  deed  ? 
If  they  like  cat  and  dog  agree. 
Go  rail  at  Plutus,  not  at  me." 

Plutus  appear'd,  and  said,  "  'Tis  true, 
In  marriage,  gold  is  all  their  view ; 
They  seek  not  beauty,  wit,  or  sense, 
And  love  is  seldom  the  pretence. 
All  offer  incense  at  my  shrine, 
And  I  alone  the  bargain  sign. 


How  can  Belinda  blame  her  fate  ? 
She  only  ask'd  a  great  estate. 
Doris  was  rich  enough,  'tis  true, 
Her  lord  must  give  her  title  too ; 
And  every  man,  or  rich  or  poor, 
A  fortune  asks,  and  asks  no  more." 
A.varice,  whatever  shape  it  bears, 
Must  still  be  coupled  with  its  cares. 


THE     TAME     STAG. 

As  a  young  Stag  the  thicket  past, 
The  branches  held  his  antlers  fast ; 
A  clown,  who  saw  the  captive  hung, 
Across  the  horns  his  halter  flung. 

Now  safely  hamper'd  in  the  cord, 
He  bore  the  present  to  his  lord. 
His  lord  was  pleased,  as  was  the  'clown, 
When  he  was  tipp'd  with  half-a-crown. 
The  Stag  was.  brought  before  his  wife ; 
The  tender  lady  begg'd  his  life ; 



"  How  sleek's  the  skin !  how  speck'd  like  ermine  ! 
Sure  never  creature  was  so  charming ! " 

At  first  within  the  yard  confined, 
He  flies  and  hides  from  all  mankind ; 
Now  bolder  grown,  with  fix'd  amaze, 
And  distant  awe,  presumes  to  gaze ; 
Munches  the  linen  on  the  lines, 
And  on  a  hood  or  apron  dines, 
He  steals  my  little  master's  bread, 
Follows  the  servants  to  be  fed, 
Nearer  and  nearer  now  he  stands, 
To  feel  the  praise  of  patting  hands ; 
Examines  every  fist  for  meat, 
And,  though  repulsed,  disdains  retreat ; 
Attacks  again  with  levelled  horns, 
And  man,  that  was  his  terror,  scorns. 

Such  is  the  country  maiden's  fright, 
When  first  a  red-coat  is  in  sight ; 
Behind  the  door  she  hides  her  face, 
Next  time,  at  distance,  eyes  the  lace. 
She  now  can  all  his  terrors  stand, 
Nor  from  his  squeeze  withdraws  her  hand. 
She  plays  familiar  in  his  arms, 
And  every  soldier  hath  his  charms : 
From  tent  to  tent  she  spreads  her  flame ; 
For  custom  conquers  fear  and  shame. 



A  MONKEY,  to  reform  the  times, 
Besolved  to  visit  foreign  climes ; 
For  men  in  distant  regions  roam 
To  bring  politer  manners  home. 
So  forth  he  fares,  all  toil  defies : 
Misfortune  serves  to  make  us  wise. 

At  length  the  treacherous  snare  was  laid ; 
Poor  Pug  was  caught ;  to  town  convey'd ; 
There  sold.     (How  envied  was  his  doom, 
Made  captive  in  a  lady's  room  ! ) 

97  7 


Proud,  as  a  lover,  of  his  chains, 

He,  day  by  day,  her  favour  gains. 

Whene'er  the  duty  of  the  day 

The  toilet  calls,  with  mimic  play 

He  twirls  her  knots,  he  cracks  her  fan, 

Like  any  other  gentleman. 

In  visits,  too,  his  parts  and  wit, 

When  jests  grew  dull,  were  sure  to  hit. 

Proud  with  applause,  he  thought  his  mind 

In  every  courtly  art  refined ; 

Like  Orpheus,  burnt  with  public  zeal, 

To  civilize  the  monkey-weal ; 

So  watch'd  occasion,  broke  his  chain, 

And  sought  his  native  woods  again. 

The  hairy  sylvans  round  him  press, 
Astonish'd  at  his  strut  and  dress : 
Some  praise  his  sleeve,  and  others  glote 1 
Upon  his  rich  embroider'd  coat. 
His  dapper  periwig  commending, 
With  the  black  tail  behind  depending ; 
His  powder'd  back,  above,  below, 
Like  hoary  frosts,  or  fleecy  snow  ; 
But  all,  with  envy  and  desire, 
His  fluttering  shoulder-knot  admire. 

"  Hear  and  improve,"  he  pertly  cries, 
"  I  come  to  make  a  nation  wise. 
Weigh  your  own  worth ;  support  your  place, 
The  next  in  rank  to  human  race. 
In  cities  long  I  pass'd  my  days, 
Conversed  with  men,  and  learn'd  their  ways. 

1  Glote,  probably  for  glout ;  and  means,  to  look  sullen  with  envy.    Gay 
uses  the  same  word  in  another  place : 

"With  maliro  hiss,  with  envy  glote."— Fable  -23,  line  29. 

THE   MONKEY  WHO   HAD   SEEN  THE  WORLD.        99 

Their  dress,  their  courtly  manners  see ; 
Eeform  your  state,  and  copy  me. 
Seek  ye  to  thrive  ?  in  flattery  deal ; 
Your  scorn,  your  hate,  with  that  conceal. 
Seem  only  to  regard  your  friends, 
But  use  them  for  your  private  ends. 
Stint  not  to  truth  the  flow  of  wit, 
Be  prompt  to  lie,  whene'er  'tis  fit. 
Bend  all  your  force  to  spatter  merit ; 
Scandal  is  conversation's  spirit. 
Boldly  to  everything  pretend, 
And  men  your  talents  shall  commend. 
I  knew  the  great.     Observe  me  right ; 
So  shall  you  grow,  like  man,  polite." 

He  spoke  and  bow'd.     With  muttering  jaws, 
The  wondering  circle  grinn'd  applause. 

Now,  warm'd  with  malice,  envy,  spite, 
Their  most  obliging  friends  they  bite  ; 
And  fond  to  copy  human  ways, 
Practise  new  mischiefs  all  their  days. 

Thus  the  dull  lad,  too  tall  for  school, 
With  travel  finishes  the  fool ; 
Studious  of  every  coxcomb's  airs, 
He  drinks,  games,  dresses,  whores,  and  swears ; 
O'erlooks  with  scorn  all  virtuous  arts, 
For  vice  is  fitted  to  his  parts. 



THE  Sage,  awaked  at  early  day, 
Through  the  deep  forest  took  his  way ; 
Drawn  by  the  music  of  the  groves, 
Along  the  winding  gloom  he  roves ; 
From  tree  to  tree  the  warbling  throats 
Prolong  the  sweet  alternate  notes. 
But  where  he  past,  he  terror  threw, 
The  song  broke  short,  the  warblers  flew ; 
The  thrushes  chatter'd  with  affright, 
And  nightingales  abhorr'd  his  sight ; 


All  animals  before  him  ran, 

To  shun  the  hateful  sight  of  man. 

"  Whence  is  this  dread  of  every  creature  ? 
Fly  they  our  figure  or  our  nature  ? " 

As  thus  he  walk'd  in  musing  thought, 
His  ear  imperfect  accents  caught. 
With  cautious  step  he  nearer  drew, 
By  the  thick  shade  conceal'd  from  view. 
High  on  the  branch  a  Pheasant  stood, 
Around  her  all  her  listening  brood ; 
Proud  of  the  blessings  of  her  nest, 
She  thus  a  mother's  care  express'd : 

"  No  dangers  here  shall  circumvent ; 
Within  the  woods  enjoy  content. 
Sooner  the  hawk  or  vulture  trust 
Than  man,  of  animals  the  worst : 
In  him  ingratitude  you  find, 
A  vice  peculiar  to  the  kind. 
The  sheep,  whose  annual  fleece  is  dyed 
To  guard  his  health,  and  serve  his  pride ; 
Forced  from  his  fold  and  native  plain, 
Is,  in  the  cruel  shambles,  slain. 
The  swarms  who,  with  industrious  skill, 
His  hives  with  wax  and  honey  fill, 
In  vain  whole  summer  days  employ'd ; 
Their  stores  are  sold,  the  race  destroy'd. 
What  tribute  from  the  goose  is  paid ! 
Does  not  her  win 2  all  science  aid  ? " 1 

1  It  is  strange  how  the  plumage  of  one  goose  serves  the  passion  of 
another,  and  the  feather  of  the  bird  aids  the  enunciation  of  the  venomous 
spleen  of  the  man  !  The  quill  is,— 

"  Torn  from  its  parent-bird  to  form  a  pen, 
That  mighty  instrument  of  little  men  !  "—BYRON.-  OWEN. 

102  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Does  it  not  lovers'  hearts  explain, 

And  drudge  to  raise  the  merchant's  gain  ? 

What  now  rewards  this  general  use  ? 

He  takes  the  quills,  and  eats  the  goose. 

Man  then  avoid,  detest  his  ways, 

So  safety  shall  prolong  your  days. 

When  services  are  thus  acquitted, 

Be  sure  we  Pheasants  must  be  spitted." 




A  PIN  who  long  had  served  a  beauty, 
Proficient  in  the  toilet's  duty, 
Had  form'd  her  sleeve,  confined  her  hair ; 
Or  given  her  knot  a  smarter  air ; 
Now  nearest  to  her  heart  was  placed 
Now  in  her  manteau's  tail  disgraced ; 
But  could  she  partial  Fortune  blame, 
Who  saw  her  lovers,  served  the  same  ? 
At  length  from  all  her  honours  cast, 
Through  various  turns  of  life  she  past  : 

104  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Now  glitter' d  on  a  tailor's  arm, 
Now  kept  a  beggar's  infant  warm ; 
Now,  ranged  within  a  miser's  coat, 
Contributes  to  his  yearly  groat  ;i 
Now,  raised  again  from  low  approach 
She  visits  in  the  doctor's  coach  : 
Here,  there,  by  various  fortune  tost, 
At  last  in  Gresham-hall  was  lost.2 
Charm'd  with  the  wonders  of  the  show, 
On  every  side,  above,  below, 
She  now  of  this  or  that,  inquires  ; 
What  least  was  understood,  admires 
'Tis  plain  each  thing  so  struck  her  mind, 
Her  head's  of  virtuoso  kind. 

"  And  pray,  what's  this,  and  this,  dear  Sir  ? " 
"  A  needle,"  says  th'  interpreter. 
She  knew  the  name ;  and  thus  the  fool 
Address'd  her,  as  a  tailor's  tool. 

"  A  needle  with  that  filthy  stone, 
Quite  idle,  all  with  rust  o'ergrown ! 
You  better  might  employ  your  parts, 
And  aid  the  sempstress  in  her  arts ; 
But  tell  me  how  the  friendship  grew 
Between  that  paltry  flint  and  you  ? " 

"  Friend,"  says  the  Needle,  "  cease  to  blame ; 
I  follow  real  worth  and  fame. 
Know'st  thou  the  loadstone's  power  and  art, 
That  virtue,  virtues  can  impart  ? 

i  This  is  in  allusion  to  the  proverb,  "  That  a  pin  a  day  is  a  groat 
a  year." 

a  This  (Gresham  Hall)  was  originally  the  house  of  Sir  Thomas  Gresham, 
the  celebrated  founder  of  the  Royal  Exchange,  who  not  content  with 
other  munificent  acts  towards  his  fellow  creatures,  converted  his  own 
dwelling  into  a  museum.  The  Eoyal  Society  originated  here  in  1645.— 


Of  all  his  talents  I  partake, 

Who  then  can  such  a  friend  forsake  ? 

'Tis  I  direct  the  pilot's  hand 

To  shun  the  rocks  and  treacherous  sand 

By  me  the  distant  world  is  known, 

And  either  India  is  our  own. 

Had  I  with  milliners  been  bred, 

What  had  I  been  ?  the  guide  of  thread, 

And  drudged  as  vulgar  Needles  do, 

Of  no  more  consequence  than  you." 



A  WOLF,  with  hunger,  fierce  and  bold, 
Eavaged  the  plains,  and  thinn'd  the  fold ; 
Deep  in  the  wood,  secure  he  lay, 
The  thefts  of  night  regaled  the  day. 
In  vain  the  shepherd's  wakeful  care 
Had  spread  the  toils,  and  watch'd  the  snare ; 
In  vain  the  dog  pursued  his  pace, 
The  fleeter  robber  mock'd  the  chase. 



As  Lightfoot  ranged  the  forest  round, 
By  chance  his  foe's  retreat  he  found. 

"  Let  us  awhile  the  war  suspend, 
And  reason  as  from  friend  to  friend." 

"  A  truce  ! "  replies  the  Wolf.     'Tis  done. 
The  Dog  the  parley  thus  begun. 

"  How  can  that  strong  intrepid  mind 
Attack  a  weak  defenceless  kind  ? 
Those  jaws  should  prey  on  nobler  food, 
And  drink  the  boar's  and  lion's  blood. 
Great  souls  with  generous  pity  melt, 
Which  coward  tyrants  never  felt. 
How  harmless  is  our  fleecy  care  ! 
Be  brave,  and  let  thy  mercy  spare." 

"  Friend,"  says  the  wolf,  "  the  matter  weigh  ; 
Mature  design'd  us  beasts  of  prey ; 
As  such,  when  hunger  finds  a  treat, 
'Tis  necessary  Wolves  should  eat. 
If,  mindful  of  the  bleating  weal, 
Thy  bosom  burn  with  real  zeal, 
Hence,  and  thy  tyrant  lord  beseech ; 
To  him  repeat  the  moving  speech : 
A  Wolf  eats  Sheep  but  now  and  then, 
Ten  thousands  are  devour'd  by  men. 
An  open  foe  may  prove  a  curse 
But  a  pretended  friend  is  worse." 



LEST  men  suspect  your  tale  untrue, 
Keep  probability  in  view. 
The  traveller  leaping  o'er  those  bounds, 
The  credit  of  his  book  confounds. 
Who  with  his  tongue  hath  armies  routed, 
Makes  e'en  his  real  courage  doubted, 


But  flattery  never  seems  absurd, 
The  flatter'd  always  take  your  word : 
Impossibilities  seem  just, 
They  take  the  strongest  praise  on  trust. 
Hyperboles,  though  ne'er  so  great, 
Will  still  come  short  of  self-conceit. 

So  very  like,  a  Painter  drew, 
That  every  eye,  the  picture  knew. 
He  hit  complexion,  feature,  air, 
So  just,  the  life  itself  was  there. 
No  flattery  with  his  colours  laid, 
To  bloom  restored  the  faded  maid ; 
He  gave  each  muscle  all  its  strength ; 
The  mouth,  the  chin,  the  nose's  length  ; 
His  honest  pencil  touch'd  with  truth. 
And  mark'd  the  date  of  age  and  youth. 

He  lost  his  friends,  his  practice  fail'd ; 
Truth  should  not  always  be  reveal'd. 
In  dusty  piles  his  pictures  lay, 
For  no  one  sent  the  second  pay. 
Two  bustos,  fraught  with  every  grace, 
A  Venus'  and  Apollo's  face, 
He  placed  in  view ;  resolved  to  please, 
Whoever  sat,  he  drew  from  these, 
From  these  corrected  every  feature, 
And  spirited  each  awkward  creature. 

All  things  were  set,  the  hour  was  come, 
His  pallet  ready  o'er  his  thumb ; 
My  Lord  appear'd,  and  seated  right, 
In  proper  attitude  and  light, 
The  Painter  look'd,  he  sketch'd  the  piece, 
Then  dipt  his  pencil,  talk'd  of  Greece, 

110  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Of  Titian's  tints,  of  Guide's  air ; l 

— "  Those  eyes,  my  Lord,  the  spirit  there 

Might  well  a  Raphael's  hand  require, 

To  give  them  all  the  native  fire. 

The  features,  fraught  with  sense  and  wit, 

You'll  grant  are  very  hard  to  hit ; 

But  yet  with  patience  you  shall  view 

As  much  as  paint  and  art  can  do." 

"  Observe  the  work ! " — My  Lord  replied, 
"  Till  now  I  thought  my  mouth  was  wide ; 
Besides,  my  nose  is  somewhat  long : 
Dear  Sir,  for  me,  'tis  far  too  young." 

"  Oh !  pardon  me  (the  artist  cried) 
In  this,  we  Painters  must  decide. 
The  piece,  e'en  common  eyes  must  strike ; 
I  warrant  it  extremely  like." 

My  Lord  examined  it  anew ; 
No  looking-glass  seem'd  half  co  true. 

A  lady  came,  with  borrow'd  grace 
He,  from  his  Venus,  form'd  her  face. 
Her  lover  praised  the  Painter's  art, — 
So  like  the  picture  in  his  heart ! 
To  every  age,  some  charm  he  lent, 
E'en  beauties  were  almost  content. 

i  These  three  painters  (Titian,  Guido,  Raphael)  seem  to  have  been 
the  favourites  of  Gay,  and  in  his  epistle  to  Paul  Methuen,  Esq.,  he  again 
singles  them  out — 

"Why  didst  thou,  Kent,  forgo  thy  native  land, 
To  emulate  in  picture  Kaphael's  hand  ? 
Think'st  thou  for  this  to  raise  thy  name  at  home? 
Go  back,  adorn  the  palaces  of  Borne ; 
There  on  the  walls  let  thy  just  labours  shine, 
And  Baphael  live  again  in  thy  design. 
Yet  stay  awhile,  call  all  thy  genius  forth, 
For  Burlington  unbiass'd  knows  thy  worth ; 
His  judgment  in  thy  master-strokes  can  trace, 
Titian's  strong  fire,  and  Guide's  softer  grace." 



Through  all  the  town  his  art  they  praised ; 
His  custom  grew,  his  price  was  raised. 
Had  he  the  real  likeness  shown, 
Would  any  man  the  picture  own  ? 
But  when  thus  happily  he  wrought, 
Each  found  the  likeness  in  his  thought.1 

1  The  moral  of  this  Fable  is  extremely  faulty,  for  it  seems  to  imply  that 
because  flattery  was  attended  with  success  in  the  instance  of  the  painter, 
therefore  this  example  is  commendable  and  worthy  of  being  followed : 
whereas  nothing  can  be  more  erroneous,  both  in  moral  and  practice.  A 
painter  who  followed  this  practice  would  be  sure  of  gaining  little  or  no 
patronage,  for  portrait  painting  implies  to  take  likenesses ;  and  if  no 
likeness  is  taken,  even  should  the  limner  paint  Apollos  and  Venuses,  it 
is  impossible  he  should  succeed.  It  is  far  more  likely  that  a  painter  like 
Sir  Godfrey  Kneller  should  obtain  practice  than  such  a  flatterer.  Sir 
Godfrey  being  applied  to  by  a  person  who  had  no  expression  of  counten- 
ance, refused  to  draw  his  portrait  because,  he  said,  Tie  had  no  f nee.  Gay 
acted  very  injudiciously  in  this  instance.  In  the  Address  to  the  Duke  of 
Cnmberland  he  mentions  flattery  as  a  vice,  and  here  he  describes  it  as  a 
means  of  success— ironically,  perhaps,  but  the  irony  is  difficult  to  be. 
understood  by  young  persons. 



How  fond  are  men  of  rule  and  place, 
Who  court  it  from  the  mean  and  base  J 
These  cannot  bear  an  equal  nigh, 
But  from  superior  merit  fly. 
They  love  the  cellar's  vulgar  joke, 
And  lose  their  hours  in  ale  and  smoke. 
There  o'er  some  petty  club  preside ; 
So  poor,  so  paltry,  is  their  pride ! 
Nay,  e'en  with  fools,  whole  nights  will  sit, 
In  hopes  to  be  supreme  in  wit. 


If  these  can  read,  to  these  I  write, 
To  set  their  worth  in  truest  light. 

A  Lion-cub,  of  sordid  mind,, 
Avoided  all  the  lion  kind ; 
Fond  of  applause,  he  sought  the  feasts 
Of  vulgar  and  ignoble  beasts ; 
With  asses  all  his  time  he  spent, 
Their  club's  perpetual  president. 
He  caught  their  manners,  looks,  and  airs ; 
An  ass  in  everything  but  ears ! 
If  e'er  his  Highness  meant  a  joke, 
They  grinn'd  applause  before  he  spoke ; 
But  at  each  word  what  shouts  of  praise ! 
"  Good  gods !  how  natural  he  brays !" 

Elate  with  flattery  and  conceit, 
He  seeks  his  royal  sire's  retreat ; 
Forward,  and  fond  to  show  his  parts, 
His  Highness  brays ;  the  Lion  starts. 

"  Puppy !  that  cursed  vociferation 
Betrays  thy  life  and  conversation : 
Coxcombs,  an  ever-noisy  race, 
Are  trumpets  of  their  own  disgrace." 

"Why  so  severe?"  the  Cub  replies, 
"  Our  senate  always  held  me  wise." 

"  How  weak  is  pride!"  returns  the  sire; 
"  All  fools  are  vain  when  fools  admire  ! 
But  know,  what  stupid  asses  prize, 
Lions  and  noble  beasts  despise."1 

1  The  moral  of  this  Fable,  as  in  the  case  of  most  others  of  Gay,  is  placed 
at  the  commencement,  instead  of  at  the  end,  of  the  story. — OWEN. 

The  folly  of  seeking  applause  from  persons  of  inferior  station  and 
ability,  is  justly  reprobated  in  this  Fable,  from  the  example  of  the  young 




"  RESTRAIN  your  child ! "  you'll  soon  believe 
The  text  which  says  we  sprung  from  Eve. 

As  an  old  Hen  led  forth  her  train, 
And  seem'd  to  peck  to  show  the  grain, 
She  raked  the  chaff,  she  scratch'd  the  ground, 
And  glean'd  the  spacious  yard  around : 
A  giddy  chick,  to  try  her  wings, 
On  the  well's  narrow  margin  springs, 

THE  OLD  HEN  AND  THE  COCK.        115 

And  prone  she  drops.     The  mother's  breast 
All  day  with  sorrow  was  possest. 

A  Cock  she  met ;  her  son  she  knew ; 
And  in  her  heart  affection  grew. 

"  My  son,"  says  she,  "  I  grant  your  years 
Have  reach'd  beyond  a  mother's  cares. 
I  see  you  vigorous,  strong,  and  bold ; 
I  hear  with  joy  your  triumphs  told. 
'Tis  not  from  Cocks  thy  fate  I  dread ; 
But  let  thy  ever-wary  tread 
Avoid  yon  well ;  that  fatal  place 
Is  sure  perdition  to  our  race. 
Print  this  my  counsel  on  thy  breast ; 
To  the  just  gods  I  leave  the  rest." 

He  thank'd  her  care ;  yet  day  by  day 
His  bosom  burn'd  to  disobey, 
And  every  time  the  well  he  saw, 
Scorn'd  in  his  heart  the  foolish  law : 
Near  and  more  near  each  day  he  drew, 
And  long'd  to  try  the  dangerous  view. 
"  What  was  this  idle  charge  ? "  he  cries, 
"  Let  courage  female  fears  despise. 
Or  did  she  doubt  my  heart  was  brave, 
And  therefore  this  injunction  gave  ? 
Or  does  her  harvest  store  the  place, — 
A  treasure  for  her  younger  race  ? 
And  would  she  thus  my  search  prevent  ? 
I  stand  resolved,  and  dare  th'  event." 

Thus  said,  he  mounts  the  margin  round, 
And  pries  into  the  depths  profound. 
He  stretch'd  his  neck,  and  from  below, 
With  stretching  neck,  advanced  a  foe : 


116  GAY'S  FABLES. 

With  wrath  his  ruffled  plumes  he  rears, 
The  foe  with  ruffled  plumes  appears ; 
Threat  answered  threat,  his  fury  grew  ; 
Headlong  to  meet  the  war  he  flew ; 
But  when  the  watery  death  he  found, 
He  thus  lamented  as  he  drown'd ; 

"  I  ne'er  had  been  in  this  condition, 
But  for  my  mother's  prohibition."1 

1  Some  very  beautiful  examples  of  filial  obedience  have  been  framed 
upon  this  Fable,  but  I  think  that  they  have  led  the  writers  into  an  error 
as  to  Gay's  meaning  in  it,  which  went  into  a  deeper  principle  than  the 
mere  recommendation  of  such  a  direct  duty.  He  would  exemplify  that 
depraved  habit  of  our  nature  which  causes  restriction  to  become  a  pro- 
vocative to  disobedience ;  for  which  cause  the  Persians  were  quite  right 
in  appointing  one  master,  out  of  the  four  they  set  over  each  of  their 
young  princes,  to  instruct  his  pupil  in  self-denial  and  subjugation  of  his 
appetites.  This  thirst  for  forbidden  knowledge,  merely  because  it  is 
forbidden,  has  ever  been  the  scourge  of  the  soul,  and  "  Nitimur  in  veti- 
tum  "  its  motto,  long  before  the  time  of  Ovid. — OWEN. 

The  Kev.  W.  COXE  says :— "  The  moral  of  this  Fable  is  very  defective, 
and  inculcates  a  false  principle,  for,  according  to  the  doctrine  here  laid 
down,  parents  ought  not  to  instruct  their  children,  or  prohibit  them  from 
doing  wrong,  because,  as  we  are  descended  from  Adam  and  Eve,  that  original 
frailty,  which  we  are  supposed  to  derive  from  them,  may  possibly  lead  us  to 
disobey,  for  the  sake  of  disobedience,  and  merely  out  of  contradiction.  The 
moral  might  have  been  easily  improved.  The  Cock  might  have  observed  that 
he  was  deservedly  punished  for  his  disobedience,  and  was  drowned  for  acting 
contrary  to  his  mother's  good  advice,  which  his  duty  obliged  him  to  follow." 



THE  rats  by  night  such  mischief  did, 
Betty  was  every  morning  chid  : 
They  undermined  whole  sides  of  bacon, 
Her  cheese  was  sapp'd,  her  tarts  were  taken  ; 
Her  pasties,  fenced  with  thickest  paste, 
"Were  all  demolish'd  and  laid  waste  : 
She  cursed  the  Cat,  for  want  of  duty, 
Who  left  her  foes  a  constant  booty. 

An  engineer,  of  noted  skill, 
Engaged  to  stop  the  growing  ill. 

118  GAY'S  FABLES. 

From  room  to  room  he  now  surveys 
Their  haunts,  their  works,  their  secret  ways ; 
Finds  where  they  'scape  an  ambuscade, 
And  whence  the  nightly  sally's  made. 

An  envious  Cat  from  place  to  place, 
Unseen,  attends  his  silent  pace : 
She  saw  that  if  his  trade  went  on, 
The  purring  race  must  be  undone ; 
So  secretly  removes  his  baits, 
And  every  stratagem  defeats. 

Again  he  sets  the  poison'd  toils, 
And  puss  again  the  labour  foils. 

"  What  foe,  to  frustrate  my  designs, 
My  schemes  thus  nightly  countermines?" 
Incensed,  he  cries ;  "  this  very  hour 
The  wretch  shall  bleed  beneath  my  power." 

So  said,  a  pond'rous  trap  he  brought, 
And  in  the  fact  poor  Puss  was  caught. 

"  Smuggler,"  says  he,  "  thou  shalt  be  made 
A  victim  to  our  loss  of  trade." 

The  captive  Cat,  with  piteous  mews, 
For  pardon,  life,  and  freedom  sues  : 
"  A  sister  of  the  science  spare ; 
One  interest  is  our  common  care." 
"What  insolence!"  the  man  replied; 
"  Shall  Cats  with  us  the  game  divide  ? 
Were  all  your  interloping  band 
Extinguish'd,  or  expell'd  the  land, 
We  Ratcatchers  might  raise  our  fees, 
Sole  guardians  of  a  nation's  cheese!" 

A  Cat,  who  saw  the  lifted  knife, 
Thus  spoke,  and  saved  her  sister's  life 


"  In  every  age  and  clime  we  see 
Two  of  a  trade  can  ne'er  agree.1 
Each  hates  his  neighbour  for  encroaching ; 
'Squire  stigmatizes  'squire  for  poaching ; 
Beauties  with  beauties  are  in  arms, 
And  scandal  pelts  each  other's  charms ; 
Kings,  too,  their  neighbour  kings  dethrone, 
In  hope  to  make  the  world  their  own  : 
But  let  us  limit  our  desires, 
Not  war  like  beauties,  kings,  and  'squires  ; 
For  though  we  both  one  prey  pursue, 
There's  game  enough  for  us  and  you." 

i  The  line,  "Two  of  a  trade  can  ne'er  agree,"  has  become  a  well-known 



'Tis  certain  that  the  modish  passions 
Descend  among  the  crowd,  like  fashions. 
Excuse  me,  then,  if  pride,  conceit, 
(The  manners  of  the  fair  and  great) 
I  give  to  monkeys,  asses,  dogs, 
Fleas,  owls,  goats,  butterflies,  and  hogs. 
I  say  that  these  are  proud,  what  then  ? 
I  never  said  they  equal  men. 

A  Goat  (as  vain  as  Goat  can  be) 
Affected  singularity ; 


THE  GOAT  WITHOUT  A  BEARD.       121 

Whene'er  a  thymy  bank  he  found, 
He  roll'd  upon  the  fragrant  ground, 
And  then  with  fond  attention  stood, 
Fix'd  o'er  his  image  in  the  flood. 

"  I  hate  my  frowzy  beard,"  he  cries, 
"  My  youth  is  lost  in  this  disguise. 
Did  not  the  females  know  my  vigour, 
Well  might  they  loath  this  reverend  figure." 

Eesolved  to  smooth  his  shaggy  face, 
He  sought  the  barber  of  the  place. 
A  flippant  monkey,  spruce  and  smart, 
Hard  by,  profess'd  the  dapper  art. 
His  pole  with  pewter  basins  hung, 
Black  rotten  teeth  in  order  strung, 
Eanged  cups,  that  in  the  window  stood, 
Lined  with  red  rags,  to  look  like  blood, 
Did  well  his  threefold  trade  explain, 
Who  shaved,  drew  teeth,  and  breathed  a  vein.1 

The  Goat  he  welcomes  with  an  air, 
And  seats  him  in  his  wooden  chair : 
Mouth,  nose,  and  cheek,  the  lather  hides ; 
Light,  smooth,  and  swift,  the  razor  glides. 

"  I  hope  your  custom,  Sir,"  says  Pug, 
"  Sure  never  face  was  half  so  smug ! " 

The  Goat,  impatient  for  applause. 
Swift  to  the  neighbouring  hill  withdraws ; 
The  shaggy  people  grinn'd  and  stared, — 

— "Heyday  !  what's  here  ?  without  a  beard  ! 
Say,  brother,  whence  the  dire  disgrace  ? 
What  envious  hand  hath  robb'd  your  face  ? " — 

1  To  breathe  a  vein— to  cup  or  let  blood.  This  is  a  graphic  description  of 
the  ancient  signs  of  the  barbers  (or  barber-surgeons),  who,  as  is  well  known, 
formerly  joined  the  art  of  "  Chirurgery  "  to  that  of  shaving  and  dressing  hair 

122  GAY'S  FABLES. 

When  thus  the  fop  with  smiles  of  scorn  : 
"  Are  beards  by  civil  nations  worn  ?  — 
E'en  Muscovites  have  mow'd  their  chins.2 
Shall  we,  like  formal  Capuchins  3 
Stubborn  in  pride,  retain  the  mode, 
And  bear  about  the  hairy  load  ? 
Whene'er  we  through  the  village  stray, 
Are  we  not  mock'd  along  the  way, 
Insulted  with  loud  shouts  of  scorn, 
By  boys,  our  beards  disgraced  and  torn  ?  " 

"  Were  you  no  more  with  Goats  to  dwell, 
Brother,  I  grant  you  reason  well  ;  " 
Eeplies  a  bearded  chief.     "  Beside, 
If  boys  can  mortify  thy  pride, 
How  wilt  thou  stand  the  ridicule 
Of  our  whole  flock  ?     Affected  fool  ! 
Coxcombs,  distinguish'd  from  the  rest, 
To  all  but  coxcombs  are  a  jest."  * 

2  The  Muscovites  or  Russians  were  compelled  by  Peter  the  Great  to  shave 
their  beards. 

3  The  Capuchins,  an  order  of  friars,  who  shave  their  heads,  but  suffer  their 
beards  to  grow. 

*  This  Fable  is  somewhat  akin  to  that  of  the  Fox  without  a  Tail,  in  ^Esop, 
although  what  is  there  represented  as  a  dexterous  subterfuge  to  conceal  a  mis- 
fortune, is  here  the  voluntary  act  of  self-conceit.—  OWEN. 



WHO  friendship  with  a  knave  hath  made, 
Is  judged  a  partner  in  the  trade. 
The  matron  who  conducts  abroad 
A  willing  nymph,  is  thought  a  bawd ; 
And  if  a  modest  girl  is  seen 
With  one  who  cures  a  lover's  spleen, 
We  guess  her  not  extremely  nice, 
And  only  wish  to  know  her  price. 


124  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Tis  thus  that  on  the  choice  of  friends 
Our  good  or  evil  name  depends. 

A  wrinkled  hag,  of  wicked  fame, 
Beside  a  little  smoky  flame 
Sate  hovering,  pinch'd  with  age  and  frost ; 
Her  shrivell'd  hands,  with  veins  emboss'd, 
Upon  her  knees  her  weight  sustains, 
While  palsy  shook  her  crazy  brains : 
She  mumbles  forth  her  backward  prayers, 
An  untamed  scold  of  fourscore  years  : 
About  her  swarm'd  a  numerous  brood 
Of  Cats,  who,  lank  with  hunger,  mew'd. 

Teased  with  their  cries  her  choler  grew, 
And  thus  she  sputter'd,  "  Hence,  ye  crew ! 
Fool  that  I  was,  to  entertain 
Such  imps,  such  fiends,  a  hellish  train ! 
Had  ye  been  never  housed  and  nursed, 
I  for  a  witch  had  ne'er  been  cursed. 
To  you  I  owe  that  crowds  of  boys 
Worry  me  with  eternal  noise ; 
The  horseshoe's  nail'd — each  threshold's  guard! 
Straws  laid  across,  my  pace  retard, 
The  stunted  broom  the  wenches  hide, 
For  fear  that  I  should  up  and  ride ; 
They  stick  with  pins  my  bleeding  seat, 
And  bid  me  show  my  secret  teat." 

"  To  hear  you  prate  would  vex  a  saint ; 
Who  hath  most  reason  of  complaint  ? " 
Eeplies  a  Cat :  "  Let's  come  to  proof. 
Had  we  ne'er  starved  beneath  your  roof, 
We  had,  like  others  of  our  race, 
In  credit  lived  as  beasts  of  chase. 

THE  OLD  WOMAN  AND  HER  CAT&      125 

'Tis  infamy  to  serve  a  hag ; 
Cats  are  thought  imps,  her  broom  a  nag ! 
And  boys  against  our  lives  combine, 
Because,  'tis  said,  your  Cats  have  nine."1 

1  When  Gay  wrote  his  Fables,  the  belief  in  witchcraft,  though  much  di- 
minished, still  prevailed  ;  and  it  was  not  till  the  year  1735  that  the  absurd  and 
inhuman  laws  against  witchcraft  were  repealed.  King  James  the  First  explained 
the  practices  of  evil  spirits,  the  compacts  of  witches,  their  ceremonies,  the 
manner  of  detecting  them,  and  the  justice  of  punishing  them ;  and  in  the 
first  year  of  his  reign  the  Parliament  passed  a  law  inflicting  death  on  all 
persons  invoking,  employing,  feeding,  or  rewarding  any  evil  spirit,  whereby 
any  person  should  be  destroyed,  consumed,  pined  or  wasted,  in  any  part  of  the 
body.  The  consequence  of  this  severe  law,  to  the  terror  of  old  women,  who 
were  more  particularly  marked  out  as  such,  witches  were  discovered  in  such 
abundance  that  scarcely  a  village  was  without  one ;  and  in  one  particular 
place  in  Lancashire  their  number  was  supposed  to  be  greater  than  that  of  the 
houses.  And  many  innocent  persons,  distressed  with  poverty  and  age,  were 
condemned  to  death  by  legal  conviction  in  the  courts  of  justice,  and  as  many 
more  suffered  from  the  credulous  fury  of  the  populace.  At  present  the  influ- 
ence of  witches  is,  fortunately,  chiefly  confined  to  fables  and  fairy  stories, 
although  in  some  parts,  notably  in  the  West  of  England,  the  influence  of  the 
White  Witch  is  still  believed  in,  and  his  or  her  advice  sought  by  many  super- 
stitious persons. 



ALL  upstarts,  insolent  in  place, 
Eemind  us  of  their  vulgar  race. 

As  in  the  sunshine  of  the  morn 
A  Butterfly,  but  newly  born, 
Sate  proudly  perking  on  a  rose, 
With  pert  conceit  his  bosom  glows ; 
His  wings,  all  glorious  to  behold, 
Bedropt  with  azure,  jet,  and  gold, 



Wide  he  displays ;  the  spangled  dew 
Keflects  his  eyes  and  various  hue. 

His  now-forgotten  friend,  a  Snail, 
Beneath  his  house,  with  slimy  trail 
Crawls  o'er  the  grass,  whom  when  he  spies, 
In  wroth  he  to  the  gardener  cries — 
"  What  means  yon  peasant's  daily  toil, 
From  choking  weeds  to  rid  the  soil  ? 
Why  wake  you  to  the  morning's  care  ? 
Why  with  new  arts  correct  the  year  ? 
Why  grows  the  peach  with  crimsbn  hue 
And  why  the  plum's  inviting  blue  ? 
Were  they  to  feast  his  taste  design'd, 
That  vermin  of  voracious  kind  ? 
Crush  then  the  slow,  the  pilfering  race, 
So  purge  thy  garden  from  disgrace." 

"  What  arrogance ! "  the  Snail  replied. 
"  How  insolent  is  upstart  pride  ! 
Hadst  thou  not  thus,  with  insult  vain, 
Provoked  my  patience  to  complain, 
I  had  conceal'd  thy  meaner  birth, 
Nor  traced  thee  to  the  scum  of  earth : 
Tor  scarce  nine  suns  have  waked  the  hours, 
To  swell  the  fruit,  and  paint  the  flowers, 
Since  I  thy  humbler  life  survey'd, 
In  base,  in  sordid  guise  array'd. 
A  hideous  insect,  vile,  unclean, 
You  dragged  a  slow  and  noisome  train, 
And  from  your  spider-bowels  drew 
Foul  film,  and  spun  the  dirty  clue, 
I  own  my  humble  life,  good  friend ; 
Snail  was  I  born,  and  Snail  shall  end. 

128  GAY'S  FABLES. 

And,  what's  a  Butterfly  ?  at  best, 
He's  but  a  caterpillar  drest ; 
And  all  thy  race,  a  numerous  seed, 
Shall  prove  of  caterpillar  breed."1 

1  The  moral  in  this  Fable  directs  our  scorn  to  the  vulgar  pride  and  tyranny 
of  upstart  pretenders,  in  whom,  like  the  ass  in  the  lion's  skin,  the  meanness  of 
their  original  nature  will  peep  out,  in  spite  of  all  adventitious  ornament  of 
rank  and  fortune.  This  Fable  exposes,  from  the  example  of  the  Butterfly,  a 
feeling  which  is  the  mark  of  a  narrow  contracted  mind ;  an  upstart  pride,  which 
is  puffed  up  with  elevation,  forgets  its  low  station,  and  disdainfully  looks 
down  upon  former  associates.  It  at  the  same  time  commends,  from  the  example 
of  the  Snail,  that  humility  which  is  not  ashamed  of  its  own  inferiority. 



THE  husband  thus  reproved  his  wife : 
"  Who  deals  in  slander,  lives  in  strife. 
Art  thou  the  herald  of  disgrace, 
Denouncing  war  to  all  thy  race  ? 
Can  nothing  quell  thy  thunder's  rage, 
Which  spares  nor  friend,  nor  sex,  nor  age  ? 
129  9 

130  GAY'S  FABLES. 

That  vixen  tongue  of  your's,  my  dear, 
Alarms  our  neighbours  far  and  near. 
Good  gods  !  'tis  like  a  rolling  river, 
That  murmuring  flows,  and  flows  for  ever ! 
Ne'er  tired,  perpetual  discord  sowing ! 
Like  fame,  it  gathers  strength  by  going." 

"  Hey-day,"  the  flippant  tongue  replies, 
"  How  solemn  is  the  fool !  how  wise ! 
Is  Nature's  choicest  gift  debarr'd  ? — 
Nay,  frown  not,  for  I  will  be  heard. 
Women  of  late  are  finely  ridden, 
A  Parrot's  privilege  forbidden ! 
You  praise  his  talk,  his  squalling  song, 
But  wives  are  always  in  the  wrong." 

Now  reputations  flew  in  pieces 
Of  mothers,  daughters,  aunts,  and  nieces : 
She  ran  the  Parrot's  language  o'er, 
Bawd,  hussy,  drunkard,  slattern,  whore ; 
On  all  the  sex  she  vents  her  fury, 
Tries  and  condemns  without  a  jury. 

At  once  the  torrent  of  her  words 
Alarni'd  cat,  monkey,  dogs,  and  birds ; 
All  join  their  forces  to  confound  her, 
Puss  spits,  the  monkey  chatters  round  her ; 
The  yelping  cur  her  heels  assaults : 
The  magpie  blabs  out  all  her  faults ; 
Poll,  in  the  uproar,  from  his  cage, 
With  this  rebuke  outscream'd  her  rage : 

"  A  Parrot  is  for  talking  prized, 
But  prattling  women  are  despised. 
She  who  attacks  another's  honour, 
Draws  every  living  thing  upon  her : 



Think,  Madam,  when  you  stretch  your  lungs, 
That  all  your  neighbours  too  have  tongues. 
One  slander  must  ten  thousand  get ; 
The  world  with  interest  pays  the  debt."1 

1  The  moral  of  this  Fable  is  obvious,  and  it  exemplifies  the  proverb  of 
Solomon : — "  It  is  better  to  dwell  in  the  wilderness,  than  with  a  contentious 
and  an  angry  woman."  A  work  by  a  recent  writer  (Edna  Lyall),  "The  Auto- 
biography of  a  Slander,"  well  illustrates  the  latter  portion  of  this  striking 



A  SNEAKING  Cur,  the  master's  spy, 
Eewarded  for  his  daily  lie, 
With  secret  jealousies  and  fears 
Set  all  together  by  the  ears. 
Poor  puss  to-day  was  in  disgrace, 
Another  cat  supplied  her  place ; 
The  hound  was  beat,  the  Mastiff  chid, 
The  monkey  was  the  room  forbid ; 


THE   CUll  AND   THE   MASTIFF.  133 

Each  to  his  dearest  friend  grew  shy, 
And  none  could  tell  the  reason  why. 
A  plan  to  rob  the  house  was  laid : 
The  thief  with  love  seduced  the  maid, 
Cajol'd  the  Cur,  and  stroked  his  head, 
And  bought  his  secrecy  with  bread. 
He  next  the  Mastiff's  honour  tried, 
Whose  honest  jaws  the  bribe  defied : 
He  stretch'd  his  hand  to  proffer  moTe ; 
The  surly  Dog  his  fingers  tore. 

Swift  ran  the  Cur ;  with  indignation 
The  master  took  his  information. 
"  Hang  him,  the  villain's  cursed,"  he  cries ; 
And  round  his  neck  the  halter  ties. 

The  Dog  his  humble  suit  preferr'd 
And  begg'd  in  justice  to  be  heard. 
The  master  sat.     On  either  hand 
The  cited  Dogs  confronting  stand ; 
The  Cur  the  bloody  tales  relates, 
And  like  a  lawyer,  aggravates. 

"  Judge  not  unheard,"  the  Mastiff  cried, 
"  But  weigh  the  cause  of  either  side. 
Think  not  that  treachery  can  be  just ; 
Take  not  informers'  words  on  trust ; 
They  ope  their  hand  to  every  pay, 
And  you  and  me  by  turns  betray." 

He  spoke ;  and  all  the  truth  appear'd ; 
The  Cur  was  hang'd,  the  Mastiff  clear'd.1 

1  This  Fable  also  deals  with  scandal,  but  proves  that  retailers  of  scandal  may 
in  vain  hope  to  escape  detection ;  for  like  the  cur  in  this  Fable,  liars  will 
sooner  or  later  be  discovered  and  punished.  Here  also  Solomon's  words  apply : 
"  Where  there  is  no  talebearer,  the  strife  ceaseth." 




"  Is  there  no  hope  ?  "  the  sick  man  said. 
The  silent  doctor  shook  his  head ; 
And  took  his  leave  with  signs  of  sorrow, 
Despairing  of  his  fee  to-morrow. 

When  thus  the  Man,  with  gasping  breath ; 
"  I  feel  the  chilling  wound  of  Death ! 
Since  I  must  bid  the  world  adieu, 
Let  me  my  former  life  review. 



I  grant  my  bargains  well  were  made ; 

But  all  men  over-reach  in  trade : 

'Tis  self-defence  in  each  profession ; 

Sure  self-defence  is  no  transgression. 

The  little  portion  in  my  hands, 

By  good  security  on  lands 

Is  well  increased.     If,  unawares, 

My  justice  to  myself  and  heirs 

Hath  let  my  debtor  rot  in  jail, 

For  want  of  good  sufficient  bail ; 

If  I  by  writ,  or  bond,  or  deed, 

Eeduced  a  family  to  need, 

My  will  hath  made  the  world  amends ; 

My  hope  on  charity  depends.1 

When  I  am  number'd  with  the  dead, 

And  all  my  pious  gifts  are  read, 

By  heaven  and  earth  'twill  then  be  known 

My  charities  were  amply  shown." 

An  Angel  came :  "  Ah !  friend,"  he  cried, 

"  No  more  in  nattering  hope  confide. 

Can  thy  good  deeds  in  former  times 

Outweigh  the  balance  of  thy  crimes  ? 

What  widow  or  what  orphan  prays, 

To  crown  thy  life  with  length  of  days  ? 

A  pious  action's  in  thy  power, 

Embrace  with  joy  the  happy  hour. 

Now  while  you  draw  the  vital  air, 

Prove  your  intention  is  sincere : 

1  The  same  word  in  Greek  which  signifies  "grace"  also  means  "charity," 
but  with  the  usual  waywardness  and  self-deceiving  reliance  upon  their  own 
merits  exhibited  by  mankind,  the  poor  wretch  here  depends  upon  the  latter 
meaning  of  the  word,  synonymous  with  his  benevolent  acts,  instead  of  its 
proper  meaning,  the  free,  unmerited  favour  of  Heaven.  The  angel's  reply  is 
very  applicable  to  detect  the  hypocrisy  of  his  boasted  piety.— OWEN. 

136  GAY'S  FABLES. 

This  instant  give  a  hundred  pound  ; 
Your  neighbours  want,  and  you  abound." 

"  But  why  such  haste,"  the  sick  Man  whines, 
"  Who  knows  as  yet  what  Heaven  designs  ? 
Perhaps  I  may  recover  still : — 
That  sum  and  more  are  in  my  will." 

"  Fool,"  says  the  Vision,  "  now  'tis  plain 
Your  life,  your  soul,  your  heaven,  was  gain. 
From  every  side,  with  all  your  might, 
You  scraped,  and  scraped  beyond  your  right ; 
And  after  death  would  fain  atone, 
By  giving  what  is  not  your  own." 

"  While  there  is  life,  there's  hope,"  he  cried, 
"  Then  why  such  haste  ? " — so  groan'd  and  died. 



Is  there  a  bard  whom  genius  fires, 
Whose  every  thought  the  god  inspires  ? 
When  Envy  reads  the  nervous  lines, 
She  frets,  she  rails,  she  raves,  she  pines ; 
Her  hissing  snakes  with  venom  swell ; 
She  calls  her  venal  train  from  hell : 

138  GAY'S  FABLES. 

The  servile  fiends  her  nod  obey, 
And  all  Curl's  authors  are  in  pay.1 
Fame  calls  up  Calumny  and  Spite ; 
Thus  shadow  owes  its  birth  to  light. 

As  prostrate  to  the  god  of  day, 
With  heart  devout,  a  Persian  lay,2 
His  invocation  thus  begun : 

"  Parent  of  light !  all  seeing  Sun ! 
Prolific  beam,  whose  rays  dispense3 
The  various  gifts  of  Providence ; 
Accept  our  praise,  our  daily  prayer, 
Smile  on  our  fields,  and  bless  the  year." 

A  Cloud,  who  mock'd  his  grateful  tongue, 
The  day  with  sudden  darkness  hung ; 
With  pride  and  envy  swell'd,  aloud 
A  voice  thus  thunder'd  from  the  Cloud : 

"  Weak  is  this  gaudy  god  of  thine, 
Whom  I  at  will,  forbid  to  shine. 
Shall  I  nor  vows  nor  incense  know  ? — 
Where  praise  is  due  the  praise  bestow." 

i  Edmund  Curl  was  a  noted  bookseller  and  publisher,  much  ridiculed  by 
Pope  and  Swift,  and  often  alluded  to  in  the  "Dunciad."  He  has  lately  been 
brought  forward  again  as  one  of  the  characters  in  Lytton's  play,  "  Not  so  Bad 
as  We  Seem."— OWEN. 

Curl,  it  may  be  remembered,  wrote  and  published  the  first  biography  of 
Gay,  in  the  year  following  the  poet's  death.  He  died  in  1747,  aged  72. 

Gay  has,  in  another  part  of  his  works,  satirized  poor  Curl  :— 

"  Were  Prior,  Congreve,  Swift  and  Pope  unknown, 
Poor  slander  selling  Curl  would  be  undone." 

The  Editor  of  Bishop  Atterbury  says  of  him,  that  "  Whatever  were  his  de- 
merits, they  were  amply  atoned  for  by  his  indefatigable  industry  in  preserving 
our  national  remains  :  nor  did  he  publish  a  single  volume,  but  what,  amidst  a 
profusion  of  baser  metal,  contained  some  precious  ore,  some  valuable  reliques, 
which  future  collectors  could  nowhere  else  have  found." 

8  Many  of  the  ancient  nations  worshipped  the  Sun  as  the  Supreme  Being, 
but  the  Persians  particularly  ;  the  Parsees  still  worship  it. 

3  Prolific  beam.    Fruitful. 

Prior  also  applies  the  word  in  the  same  sense  to  the  Sun :  — 

"  From  the  middle  of  the  world 

The  sun's  prolific  rays  are  hurl'd." 


With  fervent  zeal  the  Persian  moved, 
Thus  the  proud  calumny  reproved ; 
"  It  was  that  god  who  claims  my  pray'r, 
Who  gave  thee  birth,  and  raised  thee  there ; 
When  o'er  his  beams  the  veil  is  thrown, 
Thy  substance  is  but  plainer  shown  : 
A  passing  gale,  a  puff  of  wind, 
Dispels  thy  thickest  troops  combined." 

The  gale  arose ;  the  vapour  tost 
— The  sport  of  winds, — in  air  was  lost ; l 
The  glorious  orb  the  day  refines : 
Thus  Envy  breaks,  thus  Merit  shines.2 

1  The  moral  of  this  Fable  is  just,  as  the  description  is  sublime  :  it  shows  that 
true  greatness  will  always  shine  forth  in  the  midst  of  the  storms  of  life,  and 
will  finally  overcome  base  envy,  which 

"  "Withereth  at  another's  joy, 

And  hates  that  excellence  it  cannot  reach." 


2  This  Fable  exposes  the  fatal  consequence  of  inveterate  habits.    Whenever 
any  darling  sin  has  taken  full  possession  of  our  minds,  it  generally  becomes  a 
ruling  passion,  and  accompanies  us  to  the  grave.     Hypocrisy  may,  on  a  death- 
bed, affect  to  condemn  ;  yet  a  long  indulged  habit  wiU  gain  the  victory,  and  lay 
bare  the  heart  without  disguise.— COXE. 



A  Fox,  in  life's  extreme  decay, 
Weak,  sick,  and  faint,  expiring  lay ; 
All  appetite  had  left  his  maw, 
And  age  disarm'd  his  mumbling  jaw. 
His  numerous  race  around  him  stand, 
To  learn  their  dying  sire's  command : 
He  raised  his  head  with  whining  moan, 
And  thus  was  heard  the  feeble  tone : 



"  Ah,  sons !  from  evil  ways  depart ; 
My  crimes  lie  heavy  on  my  heart. 
See,  see  the  murder'd  geese  appear ! 
Why  are  those  bleeding  turkeys  there  ? 
Why  all  around  this  cackling  train, 
Who  haunt  my  ears  for  chickens  slain  ? " 
The  hungry  Foxes  round  them  stared, 
And  for  the  promised  feast  prepared. 

"  Where,  Sir,  is  all  this  dainty  cheer  ? 
Nor  turkey,  goose,  nor  hen,  is  here : 
These  are  the  phantoms  of  your  brain, 
And  your  sons  lick  their  lips  in  vain." 

"  0  gluttons  ! "  says  the  drooping  sire, 
"  Eestrain  inordinate  desire : 
Your  liquorish  taste  you  shall  deplore, 
When  peace  of  conscience  is  no  more. 
Does  not  the  hound  betray  our  pace, 
And  gins  and  guns  destroy  our  race  ? 
Thieves  dread  the  searching  eye  of  power, 
And  never  feel  the  quiet  hour. 
Old  age  (which  few  of  us  shall  know) 
Now  puts  a  period  to  my  woe.' 
Would  you  true  happiness  attain, 
Let  honesty  your  passions  rein ; 
So  live  in  credit  and  esteem, 
And  the  good  name  you  lost,  redeem." 

"  The  counsel's  good,"  a  Fox  replies, 
"  Could  we  perform  what  you  advise. 
Think  what  our  ancestors  have  done  ? 
A  line  of  thieves  from  son  to  son : 
To  us  descends  the  long  disgrace, 
And  infamy  hath  mark'd  our  race. 

142  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Though  we,  like  harmless  sheep,  should  feed, 

Honest  in  thought,  in  word,  and  deed ; 

Whatever  hen-roost  is  decreased, 

We  shall  be  thought  to  share  the  feast. 

The  change  shall  never  be  believed : 

A  lost  good  name  is  ne'er  retrieved." 

"  Nay,  then,"  replies  the  feeble  Fox ; 
"  But,  hark  !  I  hear  a  hen  that  clucks : 
Go,  but  be  moderate  in  your  food : 
A  chicken,  too,  might  do  me  good."1 

i  This  liable  of  hypocrisy  somewhat  resembles  Fable  xxvil.,  except  in 
rthe  additional  feature  here  exhibited,  of  the  fancy  which  besets  men 
that  they  have  forsaken  their  vices,  when  really  they  are  too  old  to 
practise  them.— OWEN. 



THE  ranging  Dog  the  stubble  tries, 
And  searches  every  breeze  that  flies. 
The  scent  grows  warm ;  with  cautious  fear 
He  creeps,  and  points  the  covey  near ; 
The  men  in  silence,  far  behind, 
Conscious  of  game  the  net  unbind. 


144  GAY'S  FABLES. 

A  Partridge,  with  experience  wise, 
The  f raudf ul  preparation  spies ; 
She  mocks  their  toils,  alarms  her  brood, 
The  covey  springs,  and  seeks  the  wood ; 
But,  ere  her  certain  wing  she  tries, 
Thus  to  the  creeping  Spaniel  cries  : 
"  Thou  fawning  slave  to  man's  deceit, 
Thou  pimp  of  luxury,  sneaking  cheat, 
Of  thy  whole  species,  thou  disgrace, 
Dogs  should  disown  thee  of  their  race ! 
For  if  I  judge  their  native  parts, 
They're  born  with  honest,  open  hearts ; 
And,  ere  they  served  man's  wicked  ends, 
Were  generous  foes,  or  real  friends." 

When  thus  the  Dog,  with  scornful  smile : 
"  Secure  of  wing,  thou  dar'st  revile. 
Clowns  are  to  polish'd  manners  blind : 
How  ign'rant  is  the  rustic  mind ! 
My  worth  sagacious  courtiers  see, 
And  to  preferment  rise  like  me. 
The  thriving  pimp,  who  beauty  sets, 
Hath  oft  enhanced  a  nation's  debts  ; 
Friend  sets1  his  friend,  without  regard, 
And  ministers  his  skill  reward  : 
Thus  train'd  by  man,  I  learnt  his  ways, 
And  growing  favour  feasts  my  days." 

"I  might  have  guess'd,"  the  Partridge 

"  The  place  where  you  were  train'd  and  fed ; 

1  The  meaning  here  attached  to  this  word,  "set,"  as  in  the  line  but  one 
above,  is  to  betray  ;  the  metaphor  being  obviously  taken  from  the  act  of  a  dog 
discovering  game.  The  noun  "setter"  is  used  in  the  same  sense  by  Poins, 
speaking  of  Gadshill,  Henry  IV.  Part  I.  Act  ii.  Scene  2.— OWEN. 



Servants  are  apt,  and  in  a  trice 
Ape  to  a  hair  their  master's  vice. 
You  came  from  court,  you  say — Adieu!" 
She  said,  and  to  the  covey  flew.1 

i  With  his  usual  bitterness  against  court  intrigue,  engendered  by  his 
own  disappointment,  Gay  here  attacks  the  servility  with  which  the 
courtier  fawns  upon  his  patron,  and  the  treachery  which  is  ever  ready,  in 
the  pernicious  atmosphere  of  a  court,  to  poison  and  betray  friendship. 
Moreover,  he  alludes  to  the  exact  reflection  of  the  vices  of  the  upper 
classes,  which  the  lower  strive  to  exhibit,  though  those  will  admit  who 
have  mixed  in  upper  society,  that  the  grossest  vulgarity  of  feeling,  if  not 
of  manner,  is  frequently  found  amongst  people  of  highest  rank. — OWEN. 




A  RAKE,  by  every  passion  ruled, 
With  every  vice  his  youth  had  cool'd ; 
Disease  his  tainted  blood  assails, 
His  spirits  droop,  his  vigour  fails : 
With  secret  ills  at  home  he  pines, 
And,  like  infirm  old  age,  declines. 

As  twinged  with  pain,  he  pensive  sits, 
And  raves,  and  prays,  and  swears,  by  fits 
A  ghastly  phantom,  lean  and  wan, 
Before  him  rose,  and  thus  began : 



"  My  name,  perhaps,  hath  reach'd  your  ear ; 
Attend,  and  be  advised  by  Care. 
Nor  love,  nor  honour,  wealth,  nor  pow'r, 
Can  give  the  heart  a  cheerful  hour 
When  health  is  lost.     Be  timely  wise : 
With  health  all  taste  of  pleasure  flies." 

Thus  said,  the  phantom  disappears. 
The  wary  counsel  waked  his  fears : 
He  now  from  all  excess  abstains, 
With  physic  purifies  his  veins ; 
And,  to  procure  a  sober  life, 
Resolves  to  venture  on  a  wife. 

But  now  again  the  Sprite  ascends— 
Where'er  he  walks  his  ear  attends ; 
Insinuates  that  beauty's  frail, 
That  perseverance  must  prevail ; 
With  jealousies  his  brain  inflames, 
And  whispers  all  her  lovers'  names. 
In  other  hours  she  represents 
His  household  charge,  his  annual  rents, 
Increasing  debts,  perplexing  duns, 
And  nothing  for  his  younger  sons. 

Straight  all  his  thought  to  gain  he  turns, 
And  with  the  thirst  of  lucre  burns. 
But,  when  possess'd  of  fortune's  store. 
The  Spectre  haunts  him  more  and  more ; 
Sets  want  and  misery  in  view, 
Bold  thieves  and  all  the  murdering  crew ; 
Alarms  him  with  eternal  frights, 
Infests  his  dream,  or  wakes  his  nights. 
How  shall  he  chase  this  hideous  guest  ? 
Power  may  p'r'aps  protect  his  rest. 

10 — 2 

148  GAY'S  FABLES. 

To  power  he  rose.    Again  the  Sprite 
Besets  him,  morning,  noon,  and  night ; 
Talks  of  Ambition's  tottering  seat, 
How  Envy  persecutes  the  great ; 
Of  rival  hate,  of  treach'rous  friends, 
And  what  disgrace  his  fall  attends. 

The  court  he  quits  to  fly  from  Care. 
And  seeks  the  peace  of  rural  air: 
His  groves,  his  fields,  amused  his  hours ; 
He  pruned  his  trees,  he  raised  his  flowers. 
But  Care  again  his  steps  pursues, 
Warns  him  of  blasts,  of  blighting  dews, 
Of  plundering  insects,  snails,  and  rains, 
And  droughts  that  starved  the  labour'd  plains. 
Abroad,  at  home,  the  Spectre's  there ; 
In  vain  we  seek  to  fly  from  Care. 

At  length  he  thus  the  Ghost  addrest : 
"  Since  thou  must  be  my  constant  guest 
Be  kind,  and  follow  me  no  more ; 
For  Care,  by  right,  should  go  before." l 

1  Under  &  representation  of  the  vanity  of  all  hnman  pursuits,  which  closely 
resembles  the  picture  given  of  life  by  Solomon,  in  Ecclesiastes,  Gay  draws  an 
application  of  the  virtue  of  prudence,  which,  by  preventing  ill,  may  forestall 
anxiety.— OWEN. 



Two  formal  Owls  together  sat, 
Conferring  thus  in  solemn  chat : 

"  How  is  the  modern  taste  decay'd ! 
Where's  the  respect  to  wisdom  paid  ? 
Our  worth  the  Grecian  sages  knew ; 
They  gave  our  sires  the  honour  due ; 
They  weigh'd  the  dignity  of  fowls, 
And  pry'd  into  the  depth  of  Owls. 

150  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Athens,  the  seat  of  learned  fame, 
With  general  voice  revered  our  name ; 
On  merit  title  was  conferr'd, 
And  all  adored  th'  Athenian  bird."1 

"  Brother,  you  reason  well,"  replies 
The  solemn  mate,  with  half-shut  eyes ; 
"  Eight :  Athens  was  the  seat  of  learning ; 
And  truly  wisdom  is  discerning. 
Besides,  on  Pallas'  helm  we  sit,2 
The  type  and  ornament  of  wit : 
But  now,  alas !  we're  quite  neglected, 
And  a  pert  Sparrow's  more  respected." 

A  Sparrow,  who  was  lodged  beside, 
O'erhears  them  soothe  each  other's  pride, 
And  thus  he  nimbly  vents  his  heat : 

"  "Who  meets  a  fool  must  find  conceit. 
I  grant  you  were  at  Athens  graced, 
And  on  Minerva's  helm  were  placed ; 
But  every  bird  that  wings  the  sky, 
Except  an  Owl,  can  tell  you  why. 
From  hence  they  taught  their  schools  to 


How  false  we  judge  by  outward  show ; 
That  we  should  never  looks  esteem, 
Since  fools  as  wise  as  you,  might  seem. 
Would  ye  contempt  and  scorn  avoid, 
Let  your  vain-glory  be  destroy'd ; 
Humble  your  arrogance  of  thought, 
Pursue  the  ways  by  nature  taught ; 

1  The  owl  (the  Athenian  bird)  was  much  respected  at  Athens  as  being  the 
favourite  bird  of  Pallas  or  Minerva,  the  protectress  of  the  city. 

2  The  figure  of  an  owl  was  usually  placed  on  the  helmet  of  Pallas  or  Minerva, 
the  Goddess  of  Wisdom. 


So  shall  you  find  delicious  fare, 
And  grateful  farmers  praise  your  care ; 
So  shall  sleek  mice  your  chase  reward, 
And  no  keen  cat  find  more  regard."1 

i  The  moral  of  the  Fable,  says  Owen,  is  rather  forced,  for  the  owl 
was  dedicated  to  Minerva,  the  patroness  of  Athens,  on  account  of  its 
symbolizing  the  far-sightedness  of  wisdom,  in  looking  through  the  dark- 
ness of  ignorance  and  error;  thus  a  wise  man,  like  an  owl,  sees  whese 
others  are  blind.  Otherwise  the  reproof  by  the  poet  9f  vain  assumption 
is  forcible  enough,  as  well  as  of  the  error  of  human  judgment,  in  being 
guided  by  external  appearances. 



WHENE'ER  a  Courtier's  out  of  place, 
The  country  shelters  his  disgrace ; 
Where,  dooni'd  to  exercise  and  health, 
His  house  and  gardens  own  his  wealth. 
He  builds  new  schemes,  in  hope  to  gain 
The  plunder  of  another  reign ; 



Like  Philip's  son,  would  fain  be  doing,1 
And  sighs  for  other  realms  to  ruin. 

As  one  of  these  (without  his  wand), 
Pensive  along  the  winding  strand 
Employ'd  the  solitary  hour, 
In  projects  to  regain  his  power, 
The  waves  in  spreading  circles  ran, 
Proteus  arose,  and  thus  began : 

"  Came  you  from  court  ?  for  in  your  mien 
A  self-important  air  is  seen." 

He  frankly  own'd  his  friends  had  trick'd  him 
And  how  he  fell  his  party's  victim. 

"  Know,"  says  the  god,  "  by  matchless  skill 
I  change  to  every  shape  at  will ; 
But  yet  I'm  told,  at  court  you  see 
Those  who  presume  to  rival  me." 

Thus  said  :  a  snake,  with  hideous  trail, 
Proteus  extends  his  scaly  mail. 

"  Know,"  says  the  man,  "  tho'  proud  in  place, 
All  courtiers  are  of  reptile  race. 
Like  you,  they  take  that  dreadful  form, 
Bask  in  the  sun,  and  fly  the  storm ; 
With  malice  hiss,  with  envy  gloat, 
And  for  convenience  change  their  coat ; 
With  new-got  lustre  rear  their  head, 
Though  on  a  dunghill  born  and  bred." 

1  Alexander,  the  son  of  Philip,  king  of  Macedon,  who  is  said  to  have  sighed 
and  shed  tears  because  he  had  no  more  realms  or  worlds  to  conquer. 
See  also  Fable  15,  lines  17  to  20,  in  Part  2,  "  When  Philip's  son,  etc." 
When  it  is  considered  that  Gay  wrote  his  Fables  by  desire  of  Queen  Caroline, 
and  for  the  instruction  of  the  Duke  of  Cumberland,  it  must  be  confessed  that 
he  cannot  be  accused  of  flattery  to  Courts  or  Courtiers.     On  the  contrary,  he 
takes  every  occasion  to  censure  Courts  and  rail  at  Courtiers,  an  example  of 
which  occurs  in  this  Fable,  as  well  as  in  that  of  the  Setting  Dog  and  the 
Partridge,  a  proof  of  his  spirit  at  least,  if  not  of  his  discretion. 

154  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Sudden  the  god  a  lion  stands ; 
He  shakes  his  mane,  he  spurns  the  sands ; 
Now  a  fierce  lynx,  with  fiery  glare ; 
A  wolf,  an  ass,  a  fox,  a  bear. 

"  Had  I  ne'er  lived  at  court,"  he  cries, 
"  Such  transformation  might  surprise ; 
But  there,  in  quest  of  daily  game, 
Each  able  Courtier  acts  the  same. 
Wolves,  lions,  lynxes,  while  in  place, 
Their  friends  and  fellows  are  their  chase. 
They  play  the  bear's  and  fox's  part, 
Now  rob  by  force,  now  steal  with  art. 
They  sometimes  in  the  senate  bray, 
Or,  changed  again  to  beasts  of  prey, 
Down  from  the  lion  to  the  ape, 
Practise  the  frauds  of  every  shape." 
So  said,  upon  the  god  he  flies, 
In  cords  the  struggling  captive  ties. 

"  Now,  Proteus !  now  (to  truth  compell'd) 
Speak,  and  confess  thy  art  excell'd. 
Use  strength,  surprise,  or  what  you  will, 
The  Courtier  finds  evasions  still ; 
Not  to  be  bound  by  any  ties, 
And  never  forced  to  leave  his  lies." 



THOSE  who  in  quarrels  interpose, 
Must  often  wipe  a  bloody  nose. 

A  Mastiff,  of  true  English  blood, 
Loved  fighting  better  than  his  food, 
When  dogs  were  snarling  for  a  bone, 
He  long'd  to  make  the  war  his  own, 
And  often  found  (when  two  contend) 
To  interpose  obtain'd  his  end. 


156  GAY'S  FABLES. 

He  gloried  in  his  limping  pace ; 
The  scars  of  honour  seam'd  his  face, 
In  every  limb  a  gash  appears, 
And  frequent  fights  retrench'd  his  ears. 

As,  on  a  time,  he  heard  from  far 
Two  dogs  engaged  in  noisy  war, 
Away  he  scours,  and  lays  about  him, 
Kesolved  no  fray  should  be  without  him. 

Forth  from  his  yard  a  tanner  flies, 
And  to  the  bold  intruder  cries, 
"  A  cudgel  shall  correct  your  manners : 
Whence  sprung  this  cursed  hate  to  tanners  ? 
While  on  my  dog  you  vent  your  spite, 
Sirrah  \  'tis  me  you  dare  not  bite." 

To  see  the  battle  thus  perplex'd, 
With  equal  rage  a  butcher  vex'd, 
Hoarse-screaming  from  the  circled  crowd, 
To  the  cursed  Mastiff  cries  aloud, 

"  Both  Hockley-hole  and  Mary-bone J 
The  combats  of  my  dog  have  known  : 
He  ne'er,  like  bullies,  coward-hearted, 
Attacks  in  public, — to  be  parted. 
Think  not,  rash  fool,  to  share  his  fame ; 
Be  his  the  honour  or  the  shame." 

Thus  said,  they  swore,  and  raved  like 


Then  dragg'd  their  f asten'd  dogs  asunder ; 
While  club  and  kicks  from  ev'ry  side 
Eebounded  from  the  Mastiff's  hide. 

1  Both  these  places  were  celebrated  bear-gardens,  and  were  frequently  used 
for  bull-baiting.  The  former  was  in  Clerkenwell,  near  the  modern  Ray  Street. 
In  Gay's  Beggar's  Opera,  Mrs.  Peachum  says  to  Filch,  "  You  must  go  to 
Hockley-in-the-Hole,  and  to  Marybone,  child,  to  learn  valour."— OWEN. 


All  reeking  now  with  sweat  and  blood, 
Awhile  the  parted  warriors  stood ; 
Then  pour'd  upon  the  meddling  foe, 
Who,  worried,  howl'd,  and  sprawl'd  below. 
He  rose ;  and,  limping  from  the  fray, 
By  both  sides  mangled,  sneak'd  away. 




How  many  saucy  airs  we  meet 

From  Temple  Bar  to  Aldgate  Street ! 

Proud  rogues,  who  shared  the  South-sea  prey,1 

And  sprung,  like  mushrooms,  in  a  day  ! 

They  think  it  mean  to  condescend 

To  know  a  brother  or  a  friend ; 

They  blush  to  hear  their  mother's  name, 

And  by  their  pride  expose  their  shame. 

i  Gay  alludes  in  this  line  to  the  South-Sea  Bubble,  from  which  he  waa 
himself  a  great  sufferer.  Full  particulars  of  this  will  be  found  in  the 
biography  appended  to  the  present  volume. 


THE   BARLEY-MOW  AND   THE   DUNGHILL.          159 

As  'cross  his  yard,  at  early  day, 
A  careful  farmer  took  his  way, 
He  stopp'd,  and,  leaning  on  his  fork, 
Observed  the  flail's  incessant  work. 
In  thought  he  measured  all  his  store — 
His  geese,  his  hogs,  he  numbered  o'er  ; 
In  fancy  weigh'd  the  fleeces  shorn, 
And  multiplied  the  next  year's  corn. 
A  Barley-mow,  which  stood  beside, 
Thus  to  its  musing  master  cried : 
"  Say,  good  sir,  is  it  fit  or  right 
To  treat  me  with  neglect  and  slight  ? 
Me,  who  contribute  to  your  cheer, 
And  raise  your  mirth  with  ale  and  beer  ? 
Why  thus  insulted,  thus  disgraced, 
And  that  vile  Dunghill  near  me  placed  ? 
Are  those  poor  sweepings  of  a  groom, 
That  filthy  sight,  that  nauseous  fume, 
Meet  objects  here  ?    Command  it  hence ; 
A  thing  so  mean  must  give  offence." 

The  humble  Dunghill  thus  replied : 
"  Thy  master  hears,  and  mocks  thy  pride : — 
Insult  not  thus  the  meek  and  low ; 
In  me  thy  benefactor  know ; 
My  warm  assistance  gave  thee  birth, 
Or  thou  hadst  perish'd  low  in  earth ; 
But  upstarts,  to  support  their  station, 
Cancel  at  once  all  obligation." 1 

i  This  fable  strongly  condemns  ingratitude,  which  Shakespeare,  in 
King  Lear,  calls  a  hideous  monster.  The  ancients  had  a  saying,  that  to 
accuse  a  man  of  ingratitude  was  to  charge  him  with  every  crime ;  yet  the 
contrary  virtue  is  more  frequently  found  amongst  those  called  uncivilized, 
than  amongst  polite  nations.  The  reason  is,  that  from  men  being  nearer 
upon  a  level,  there  is  not  so  much  inclination  from  false  pride  to  forget  it. 



PYTHAG'RAS  rose  at  early  dawn,1 

By  soaring  meditation  drawn  ; 

To  breathe  the  fragrance  of  the  day, 

Through  flowery  fields  he  took  his  way. 

»ht  the  doctrine  of  the 
transmigration  of  souls,  or  that  the  souls  of  men  after  their  decease  pass 
into  the  bodies  of  men  or  animals ;  he  therefore  forbade  the  flaying  of 
animals  and  the  eating  of  flesh,  to  v  hich  Gay  alludes  in  this  Fable. 



In  musing  contemplation  warm, 

His  steps  misled  him  to  a  farm, 

Where  on  a  ladder's  topmost  round 

A  peasant  stood ;  the  hammer's  sound 

Shook  the  weak  barn.     "  Say,  Friend,  what  care 

Calls  for  thy  -honest  labour  there  ? " 

The  Clown,  with  surly  voice,  replies, 
"  Vengeance  aloud  for  justice  cries. 
This  kite,  by  daily  rapine  fed, 
My  hens'  annoy,  my  turkeys'  dread, 
At  length  his  forfeit  life  hath  paid ; 
See  on  the  wall  his  wings  display'd. 
Here  nail'd,  a  terror  to  his  kind, 
My  fowls  shall  future  safety  find ; 
My  yard  the  thriving  poultry  feed, 
And  my  barn's  refuse  fat  the  breed." 

"  Friend,"  says  the  Sage,  "  the  doom  is  wise ; 
For  public  good  the  murderer  dies  : 
But  if  these  tyrants  of  the  air 
Demand  a  sentence  so  severe, 
Think  how  the  glutton,  man,  devours ; 
What  bloody  feasts  regale  his  hours ! 
O  impudence  of  power  and  might, 
Thus  to  condemn  a  hawk  or  kite, 
When  thou,  perhaps,  carniv'rous  sinner, 
Hadst  pullets  yesterday  for  dinner  I " 

"  Hold,"  cried  the  Clown,  with  passion  heated. 
"  Shall  kites  and  men  alike  be  treated  ? 
When  Heaven  the  world  with  creatures  stored, 
Man  was  ordain'd  their  sovereign  lord." 
"  Thus  tyrants  boast,"  the  Sage  replied, 
"  Whose  murders  spring  from  power  and  pride 


162  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Own  then  this  manlike  kite  is  slain 
Thy  greater  luxury  to  sustain  ; 
For  '  Petty  rogues  submit  to  Fate, 
That  great  ones  may  enjoy  their  state.' "  l 

1  Garth's  "Dispensary." 



"  WHY  are  those  tears  ?  why  droops  your  head  ? 
Is  then  your  other  husband  dead  ? 
Or  does  a  worse  disgrace  betide : 
Hath  no  one  since  his  death  applied?" 

"  Alas  !  you  know  the  cause  too  well ; 
The  salt  is  spilt,  to  me  it  fell  :l 

i  This  is  a  very  old  superstition,  but  still  prevalent,  and  in  the  picture  of 
the  Last  Supper,  by  Leo.  da  Vinci,  the  saltcellar  is  represented  as  being  over- 
turned by  Judas. — OWEN. 


11 — 2 

164  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Then,  to  contribute  to  my  loss, 
My  knife  and  fork  were  laid  across  :a 
On  Friday,  too  ! — the  day  I  dread ! 
Would  I  were  safe  at  home  in  bed ; 
Last  night  (I  vow  to  Heaven  'tis  true) 
Bounce  from  the  fire  a  coffin  flew,2 
Next  post  some  fatal  news  shall  tell ; 
God  send  my  Cornish  friends  be  well!" 

"  Unhappy  Widow,  cease  thy  tears, 
Nor  feel  affliction  in  thy  fears ; 
Let  not  thy  stomach  be  suspended ; 
Eat  now,  and  weep  when  dinner's  ended : 
And  when  the  butler  clears  the  table, 
For  thy  dessert,  I'll  read  my  Fable." 

Betwixt  her  swagging  pannier's  load 
A  Farmer's  Wife  to  market  rode, 
And,  jogging  on,  with  thoughtful  care, 
Summ'd  up  the  profits  of  her  ware ; 
When,  starting  from  her  silver  dream, 
Thus  far  and  wide  was  heard  her  scream : 

"  That  raven  on  yon  left-hand  oak 
(Curse  on  his  ill-betiding  croak) 
Bodes  me  no  good."     No  more  she  said,3 
When  poor  blind  Ball,  with  stumbling  tread, 

*  Another  old  superstition,  which  is  believed  in  to  the  present  day,  by  many 
people,  and  not  only  those  of  the  illiterate. 

Knives  were  first  introduced  into  England  in  1563,  but  forks  did  not  appear 
until  1611.  For  an  interesting  account  of  English  superstitions  and  omens,  see 
Drake's  "  Shakspeare  and  his  Times." — OWEN. 

2  It  is  a  vulgar  superstition  that  when  a  piece  of  coal  flies  out  of  the  fire,  and 
seems  to  bear  the  shape  of  a  coffin,  that  it  predicts  the  death  of  some  relative 
or  friend. 

3  This  Fable  ridicules  those  idle  notions  which  predict  sinister  events  from 
common  occurrences,  and  that  absurd  superstition  called  second  sight.  Nothing 
is  more  common  or  unjust  than  for  people  to  impute  their  disasters  to  super- 
natural causes,  which  are  solely  occasioned  by  their  own  faults.    Thus  the  old 
woman  in  the  Fable  accuses  the  Raven  of  having  portended  the  loss  of  her 
brittle  ware  by  his  croaking,  whereas  it  \vns  entirely  owing  to  her  own 
negligence . — Cox  E. 


Fell  prone  ;  o'erturned  the  pannier  lay, 
And  her  mash'd  eggs  bestrew'd  the  way. 

She,  sprawling  in  the  yellow  road, 
Rail'd,  swore,  and  cursed  :  "  Thou  croaking  toad, 
A  murrain  take  thy  whoreson  throat ; 
I  knew  misfortune  in  the  note." 

"Dame,"  quoth  the  Raven,  "spare  your  oaths, 
Unclench  your  fist,  and  wipe  your  clothes. 
But  why  on  me  those  curses  thrown  ? 
Goody,  the  fault  was  all  your  own ; 
For  had  you  laid  this  brittle  ware 
On  Dun,  the  old  sure-footed  mare, 
Though  all  the  Ravens  of  the  Hundred,1 
With  croaking  had  your  tongue  out-thunder'd, 
Surefooted  Dun  had  kept  her  legs, 
And  you,  good  woman,  saved  your  eggs." 

1  The  Hundred  is  the  canton  or  district  into  which  several  of  the  counties  of 
England  are  divided. 



IN  other  men  we  faults  can  spy, 

And  blame  the  mote  that  dims  their  eye ; 1 

Each  little  speck  and  blemish  find, 

To  our  own  stronger  errors  blind. 

A  Turkey,  tired  of  common  food, 
Forsook  the  barn,  and  sought  the  wood ; 

1  The  moral  of  this  Fable  is  most  excellent.  It  is  founded  on  the  first 
principles  of  reason  and  morality,  not  to  be  severe  in  condemning  others  for 
faults  which  we  ourselves  commit.  Gay,  in  using  the  word  mote,  or  small 
particle  of  matter,  certainly  alludes  to  the  passage  in  Matt,  vii.,  vv.  8,  4. 



Behind  her  ran  an  infant  train, 
Collecting  here  and  there,  a  grain. 
"  Draw  near,  my  birds ! "  the  mother  cries, 
"  This  hill  delicious  fare  supplies. 
Behold  the  busy  negro  race,1 
See  millions  blacken  all  the  place ! 
Fear  not ;  like  me  with  freedom  eat  : 
An  Ant  is  most  delightful  meat. 
How  blest,  how  envied,  were  our  life, 
Could  we  but  'scape  the  poulterer's  knife ! 
But  man,  curs'd  man,  on  Turkeys  preys, 
And  Christinas  shortens  all  our  days. 
Sometimes  with  oysters  we  combine, 
Sometimes  assist  the  savoury  chine ; 
From  the  low  peasant  to  the  lord, 
The  Turkey  smokes  on  every  board. 
Sure  men  for  gluttony  are  curs'd, 
Of  the  seven  deadly  sins,  the  worst." 

An  Ant,  who  climb'd  beyond  his  reach, 
Thus  answer'd  from  the  neighbouring  beech : 
"  Ere  you  remark  another's  sin, 
Bid  thy  own  conscience  look  within ; 
Control  thy  more  voracious  bill, 
Nor,  for  a  breakfast,  nations  kill."2 

1  The  Black  Ants  had  this  term  applied  to  them  because  of  their  dark  colour. 

2  A  friend  of  Tedyuscung  once  said  to  him  when  a  little  intoxicated,  "There 
is  one  thing  very  strange,  and  which  I  cannot  account  for ;  it  is,  why  the 
Indians  get  drunk  so  much  more  than  the  white  people ! "    "  Do  you  think 
that  strange  ? "  said  the  old  chief  ;  "  why,  it  is  not  strange  at  all.    The  Indians 
think  it  no  harm  to  get  drunk  whenever  they  can  ;  but  you  white  men  say  it 
is  a  sin,  and  yet  get  drunk  nevertheless. '    The  cause  of  censoriousness,  I  may 
observe  also,  is,  that  men  are  so  taken  up  with  playing  the  part  of  judges,  that 
they  forget  their  own  proper  condition  is  that  of  culprits. 



THE  Man  to  Jove  his  suit  preferr'd ; 
He  begg'd  a  wife :  his  prayer  was  heard. 
Jove  wonder'd  at  his  bold  addressing ; 
For  how  precarious  is  the  blessing ! 

A  wife  he  takes :  and  now  for  heirs 
Again  he  worries  Heaven  with  prayers. 
Jove  nods  assent :  two  hopeful  boys 
And  a  fine  girl  reward  his  joys. 

THE  FATHER  AND  JUPITEK.         169 

Now  more  solicitous  he  grew, 
And  set  their  future  lives  in  view ; 
He  saw  that  all  respect  and  duty 
Were  paid  to  wealth,  to  power,  and  beauty. 

"  Once  more,"  he  cries,  "  accept  my  prayer ; 
Make  my  loved  progeny  thy  care : 
Let  my  first  hope,  my  favourite  boy, 
All  Fortune's  richest  gifts  enjoy. 
My  next  with  s-trong  ambition  fire  ; 
May  favour  teach  him  to  aspire, 
Till  he  the  step  of  power  ascend, 
And  courtiers  to  their  idol,  bend. 
With  every  grace,  with  every  charm, 
My  daughter's  perfect  features  arm. 
If  Heaven  approve,  a  Father's  bless'd." — 
Jove  smiles,  and  grants  his  full  request. 

The  first,  a  miser  at  the  heart, 
Studious  of  every  griping  art, 
Heaps  hoards  on  hoards  with  anxious  pain, 
And  all  his  life  devotes  to  gain. 
He  feels  no  joy,  his  cares  increase, 
He  neither  wakes,  nor  sleeps,  in  peace ; 
In  fancied  want  (a  wretch  complete) 
He  starves,  and  yet  he  dares  not  eat.1 
The  next  to  sudden  honours  grew ; 
The  thriving  art  of  courts  he  knew ; 
He  reach'd  the  height  of  power  and  place, 
Then  fell,  the  victim  of  disgrace.2 

1  "Like  a  miser  midst  his  store 

Who  grasps  and  grasps  till  he  can  hold  no  more ; 

And  when  his  strength  is  wanting  to  his  mind, 

Looks  back  and  sighs  on  what  he  left  behind." — DBTDEN. 

2  See  the  fall  of  Sejanus  magnificently  described  in  the  Tenth  Satire  of 
Juvenal ;  and  Johnson's  Vanity  of  Human  Wishes. 

170  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Beauty  with  early  bloom  supplies 
His  daughter's  cheek,  and  points  her  eyes, 
The  vain  coquette  each  suit  disdains, 
And  glories  in  her  lovers'  pains. 
With  age  she  fades,  each  lover  flies ; 
Contemn'd,  forlorn,  she  pines  and  dies. 

When  Jove  the  Father's  grief  survey'd, 
And  heard  him  Heaven  and  Fate  upbraid, 
Thus  spoke  the  god :  "  By  outward  show, 
Men  judge  of  happiness  and  woe. 
Shall  ignorance  of  good  and  ill 
Dare  to  direct  th'  eternal  will  ? 
Seek  virtue :  and,  of  that  possess'd, 
To  Providence  resign  the  rest."1 

1  The  vanity  of  human  wishes  ridiculed  by  Gay  in  this  Fable,  is  finely 
displayed  in  the  Tenth  Satire  of  Juvenal,  of  which  Dr.  Johnson  has  given 
an  excellent  translation,  or  rather  imitation.  Dryden's  translation  of 
Virgil  serves  as  a  moral  to  the  Fable  :— 

"  What  then  remains?  are  we  deprived  of  will? 

Must  we  not  wish,  for  fear  of  wishing  ill  ? 

Beceive  thy  counsel  and  securely  move ; 

Entrust  thy  fortune  to  the  powers  above; 

Leave  them  to  manage  for  thee  and  to  grant 

What  their  unerring  wisdom  sees  thee  want. 

In  goodness,  as  in  greatness,  they  excel : 

Oh  I  that  we  loved  ourselves  but  half  so  well." 



THE  learned,  full  of  inward  pride, 
The  fops  of  outward  show  deride ; 
The  fop,  with  learning  at  defiance, 
Scoffs  at  the  pedant  and  the  science ; 
The  Don,  a  formal  solemn  strutter, 
Despises  Monsieur's  airs  and  nutter ; 
While  Monsieur  mocks  the  formal  fool, 
Who  looks,  and  speaks,  and  walks,  by  rule. 
Britain,  a  medley  of  the  twain, 
As  pert  as  France,  as  grave  as  Spain, 

172  GAY'S  FABLES. 

In  fancy  wiser  than  the  rest, 
Laughs  at  them  both,  of  both  the  jest, 
Is  not  the  Poet's  chiming  close, 
Censured  by  all  the  sons  of  Prose  ? 
While  bards  of  quick  imagination 
Despise  the  sleepy  prose  narration. 
Men  laugh  at  apes,  they  men  contemn ; 
For  what  are  we,  but  apes  to  them  ? 

Two  Monkeys  went  to  South wark  fair, 
No  critics  had  a  sourer  air : 
They  forced  their  way  through  draggled  folks, 
Who  gaped  to  catch  Jack  Pudding's  jokes  j1 
Then  took  their  tickets  for  the  show, 
And  got  by  chance  the  foremost  row. 
To  see  their  grave  observing  face 
Provok'd  a  laugh  throughout  the  place. 

"  Brother,"  says  Pug,  and  turn'd  his  head, 
"  The  rabble's  monstrously  ill-bred." 

Now  through  the  booth  loud  hisses  ran, 
Nor  ended  till  the  show  began. 
The  tumbler  whirls  the  flip-flap  round,2 
With  sommersets  he  shakes  the  ground  ;3 
The  cord  beneath  the  dancer  springs ; 
Aloft  in  air  the  vaulter  swings ; 

1  Jack  Pudding,  or  the  Merry  Andrew,  who  usually  attends  a  mountebank 
at  fairs  and  wakes,  and  who  is  also  mentioned  by  Gay  in  his  sixth  Pastoral, 
line  83  :— 

"  The  mountebank  now  treads  the  stage,  and  sells 
His  pills,  his  balsams,  and  his  ague  spells : 
Now  o'er  and  o'er  the  nimble  tumbler  springs  ; 
And  on  the  rope  the  vent'rous  maiden  swings, 
Jack  Pudding  in  his  party-coloured  jacket 
Tosses  the  glove,  and  jokes  at  ev'ry  packet." 

2  Flip-flap.    A  kind  of  rattle. 

3  Sommersets;  usually  spelt  "summersault.1    The  word  is  derived  from 
"  aoubresaut." 


Distorted  now,  now  prone  depends, 
Now  through  his  twisted  arms  ascends ; 
The  crowd,  in  wonder  and  delight, 
With  clapping  hands  applaud  the  sight. 

With  smiles,  quoth  Pug,  "  If  pranks  like  these 
The  giant  apes  of  reason  please, 
How  would  they  wonder  at  our  arts  ? 
They  must  adore  us  for  our  parts. 
High  on  the  twig  I've  seen  you  cling, 
Play,  twist,  and  turn  in  airy  ring : 
How  can  those  clumsy  things  like  me 
Fly  with  a  bound  frum  tree  to  tree  ? 
But  yet,  by  this  applause,  we  find 
These  emulators  of  our  kind 
Discern  our  worth,  our  parts  regard, 
Who  our  mean  mimics  thus  reward." 

"  Brother,"  the  grinning  mate  replies, 
"  In  this  I  grant  that  man  is  wise, 
While  good  example  they  pursue, 
We  must  allow  some  praise  is  due ; 
But  when  they  strain  beyond  their  guide, 
I  laugh  to  scorn  the  mimic  pride ; 
For  how  fantastic  is  the  sight, 
To  meet  men  always  bolt  upright, 
Because  we  sometimes  walk  on  two ! 
I  hate  the  imitating  crew."1 

1  Mr.  Owen  says  of  this  Fable : — "  This  is  one  of  the  most  finished  of 
Gay'a  productions,  if  we  consider  the  lively  vein  of  satire  so  justly  levelled 
at  the  ignorant  and  supercilious  conduct  of  mankind,  which,  wishing  to 
arrogate  all  excellency,  even  of  physical  power,  to  itself,  strives  after  what 
may  be  termed,  '  brute  accomplishments.'  The  observation  in  the  last 
line  is  a  fac-simile  of  the  indolent  pride  which  characterises  the  observa- 
tions of  many,  and  might  pass,  wrord  for  word,  for  a  prim  speech  of 
some  fine  lady,  newly  raised  to  a  precarious  dignity,  looking  down  upon 
those  whose  society  she  has  just  quitted,  but  now  considers  as  her  infe- 
riors ;  or  for  the  pedantic  arrogance  of  some  inflated  scholar,  who  boasts 
the  knowledge  of  every  language  aud  scituce,  but  whom  a  blacksmith 
could  surpass  in  common  sense." 



AN  Owl  of  grave  deport  and  mien, 
Who  (like  the  Turk)  was  seldom  seen, 
Within  a  barn  had  chose  his  station, 
As  fit  for  prey  and  contemplation. 
Upon  a  beam  aloft  he  sits, 
And  nods,  and  seems  to  think,  by  fits. 
(So  have  I  seen  a  man  of  news, 
Or  Post-boy  or  Gazette  peruse,1 

1  Post-boy.    Formerly  the  name  of  a  newspaper. 
Gay,  in  another  work,  couples  the  Post-boy  and  the  Gazette  together : 
"  A  party  at  Cambray  met, 

Which  drew  all  Europe's  eyes ; 
'Twas  call'd  in  Post-boy  and  Gazette 
The  Quadruple  allies'."— "  BALLAD  ON  QUADRILLE." 


THE  OWL  AND  THE  FARMER.        175 

Smoke,  nod,  and  talk  with  voice  profound, 
And  fix  the  fate  of  Europe  round.) 
Sheaves  piled  on  sheaves,  hid  all  the  floor : — 
At  dawn  of  morn  to  view  his  store 
The  Farmer  came.     The  hooting  guest, 
His  self-importance,  thus  exprest : 

"  Eeason  in  man  is  mere  pretence : 
How  weak,  how  shallow,  is  his  sense ! 
To  treat  with  scorn  the  Bird  of  Night, 
Declares  his  folly  or  his  spite. 
Then,  too,  how  partial  is  his  praise. 
The  lark's,  the  linnet's  chirping  lays, 
To  his  ill-judging  ears  are  fine, 
And  nightingales  are  all  divine : 
But  the  more  knowing  feather'd  race 
See  wisdom  stamp'd  upon  my  face. 
Whene'er  to  visit  light  I  deign, 
What  flocks  of  flowl  compose  my  train ! 
Like  slaves,  they  crowd  my  flight  behind, 
And  own  me  of  superior  kind." 

The  Farmer  laugh'd  and  thus  replied : 
"  Thou  dull  important  lump  of  pride ! 
Dar'st  thou  with  that  harsh  grating  tongue 
Depreciate  birds  of  warbling  song  ? 
Indulge  thy  spleen :  know,  men  and  fowl 
Eegard  thee,  as  thou  art,  an  Owl, 
Besides,  proud  Blockhead !  be  not  vain 
Of  what  thou  call'st  thy  slaves  and  train  : 
Few  follow  Wisdom  or  her  rules ; 
Fools  in  derision  follow  fools." 



A  JUGGLER  long  through  all  the  town 
Had  raised  his  fortune  and  renown ; 
You'd  think  (so  far  his  art  transcends) 
The  devil  at  his  fingers'  ends. 

Vice  heard  his  fame,  she  read  his  bill ; 
Convinced  of  his  inferior  skill, 
She  sought  his  booth,  and  from  the  crowd 
Defied  the  man  of  art  aloud. 

"  Is  this  then  he  so  famed  for  sleight  ? 
Can  this  slow  bungler  cheat  your  sight  ? 


Dares  he  with  me  dispute  the  prize  ? 
I  leave  it  to  impartial  eyes." 

Provoked,  the  Juggler  cried,  "  'Tis  done  ; 
In  science  I  submit  to  none." 

Thus  said,  the  cups  and  balls  he  play'd ; 
By  turns  this  here,  that  there,  convey'd. 
The  cards,  obedient  to  his  words, 
Are  by  a  fillip  turn'd  to  birds. 
His  little  boxes  change  the  grain  : 
Trick  after  trick  deludes  the  train. 
He  shakes  his  bag,  he  shows  all  fair ; 
His  fingers  spread,  and  nothing  there : 
Then  bids  it  rain  with  showers  of  gold ; 
And  now  his  ivory  eggs  are  told ! 
But  when  from  thence  the  hen  he  draws, 
Amazed  spectators  hum  applause. 

Vice  now  stept  forth,  and  took  the  place, 
With  all  the  forms  of  his  grimace. 

"  This  magic  looking-glass,"  she  cries, 
"  (There,  hand  it  round)  will  charm  your  eyes." 
Each  eager  eye  the  sight  desired, 
And  every  man  himself  admired.1 

Next,  to  a  Senator  addressing, 
"  See  this  bank-note, — observe  the  blessing — 
Breathe  on  the  bill.     Hey,  pass  !    'Tis  gone." 
Upon  his  lips  a  padlock  shown. 
A  second  puff  the  magic  broke ; 
The  padlock  vanish'd,  and  he  spoke.2 

1  This  signifies  the  contamination  of  the  moral  perception,  by  vice 


2  He  here  touches  at  the  bribery  which  seals  or  opens  the  senator's  lips : 
now  loud,  now,  "pulveris  exigui  jactu"  with  the  gold  upon  his  itching 
palm,  calm  and  quiet  as  a  lamb ;  for 

"  Money  is  the  only  power 

That  all  mankind  fall  down  before." — "  HUDIBRAS  "— OWEN» 


178  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Twelve  bottles  ranged  upon  the  board, 
All  full,  with  heady  liquor  stored, 
By  clean  conveyance  disappear ; 
And  now  two  bloody  swords  are  there. 

A  purse  she  to  a  thief  exposed ; 
At  once  his  ready  fingers  closed. 
He  opes  his  fist,  the  treasure's  fled ; 
He  sees  a  halter  in  its  stead, 

She  bids  Ambition  hold  a  wand ; 
He  grasps  a  hatchet  in  his  hand.1 

A  box  of  charity  she  shows. 
Blow  here ;  and  a  churchwarden  blows. 
Tis  vanish'd  with  conveyance  neat, 
And  on  the  table  smokes  a  treat. 

She  shakes  the  dice,  the  board  she  knocks, 
And  from  all  pockets  fills  her  box. 

She  next  a  meagre  rake  addrest : 
"  This  picture  see ;  her  shape,  her  breast ! 
What  youth,  and  what  inviting  eyes ! 
Hold  her,  and  have  her."     With  surprise, 
His  hand  exposed  a  box  of  pills, 
And  a  loud  laugh  proclaim'd  his  ills. 

A  counter  in  a  miser's  hand, 
Grew  twenty  guineas  at  command : 
She  bids  his  heir  the  sum  retain, 
And  'tis  a  counter  now  again. 

A  guinea  with  her  touch,  you  see 
Take  every  shape  but  Charity ; 
And  not  one  thing  you  saw,  or  drew, 
But  changed  from  what  was  first  in  view. 

1  Because  the  last  ascent  of  ambition  often  terminates  up  jn  the  scaffold. 



The  Juggler  now,  in  grief  of  heart, 
With  this  submission  own'd  her  art : 
"  Can  I  such  matchless  sleight  withstand  ! 
How  practice  hath  improved  your  hand ! 
But  now  and  then  I  cheat  the  throng ; 
You  every  day,  and  all  day  long."1 

i  This  Fable  abounds  with  moral  lessons. 


12 — 2 




UPON  a  time  a  neighing  Steed, 
Who  grazed  among  a  numerous  breed, 
With  mutiny  had  fired  the  train, 
And  spread  dissension  through  the  plain. 
On  matters  that  concern'd  the  state 
The  Council  met  in  grand  debate. 
A  Colt,  whose  eyeballs  flamed  with  ire 
Elate  with  strength  and  youthful  fire, 


In  haste  stept  forth  before  the  rest, 
And  thus  the  listening  throng  addrest : 

"  Good  gods  !  how  abject  is  our  race, 
Condemn'd  to  slavery  and  disgrace  ! 
Shall  we  our  servitude  retain, 
Because  our  sires  have  borne  the  chain  ? 
Consider,  friends,  your  strength  and  might ; 
'Tis  conquest  to  assert  your  right. 
How  cumbrous  is  the  gilded  coach ! 
The  pride  of  man  is  our  reproach. 
Were  we  design'd  for  daily  toil, 
To  drag  the  ploughshare  through  the  soil, 
To  sweat  in  harness  through  the  road, 
To  groan  beneath  the  carrier's  load  ? 
How  feeble  are  the  two-legged  kind ! 
What  force  is  in  our  nerves  combined  ! 
Shall  then  our  nobler  jaws  submit 
To  foam  and  champ  the  galling  bit  ? 
Shall  haughty  man  my  back  bestride  ? 
Shall  the  sharp  spur  provoke  my  side  ? 
Forbid  it  heavens  !     Eeject  the  rein ; 
Your  shame,  your  infamy  disdain. 
Let  him  the  lion  first  control, 
And  still  the  tiger's  famish'd  growl. 
Let  us,  like  them,  our  freedom  claim, 
And  make  him  tremble  at  our  name." 

A  general  nod  approved  the  cause, 
And  all  the  circle  neigh'd  applause. 
When,  lo  !  with  grave  and  solemn  pace, 
A  steed  advanced  before  the  race, 
With  age  and  long  experience  wise ; 
Around  he  cast  his  thoughtful  eyes, 

182  GAY'S  FABLES. 

And,  to  the  murmurs  of  the  train, 
Thus  spoke  the  Nestor  of  the  plain :  l 

"  When  I  had  health  and  strength,  like  you, 
The  toils  of  servitude  I  knew ; 
Now  grateful  man  rewards  my  pains, 
And  gives  me  all  these  wide  domains. 
At  will,  I  crop  the  year's  increase ; 
My  latter  life  is  rest  and  peace. 
I  grant  to  man  we  lend  our  pains, 
And  aid  him  to  correct  the  plains ; 
And  doth  not  he  divide  the  care, 
Through  all  the  labours  of  the  year  ? 
How  many  thousand  structures  rise, 
To  fence  us  from  inclement  skies  ! 
For  us  he  bears  the  sultry  day, 
And  stores  up  all  our  winter's  hay ; 
He  sows,  he  reaps  the  harvest's  gain , 
We  share  the  toil,  and  share  the  grain. 
Since  every  creature  was  decreed 
To  aid  each  other's  mutual  need, 
Appease  your  discontented  mind, 
And  act  the  part  by  Heaven  assign'd." 
The  tumult  ceased.     The  Colt  submitted ; 
And,  like  his  ancestors,  was  bitted. 

1  "  The  Nestor  of  the  Plain."  The  oldest  horse,  from  Nestor,  King  of 
Pylos,  a  Grecian  hero,  and  the  oldest  warrior  at  the  Siege  of  Troy.  He 
is  said  to  have  lived  three  ages;  and  his  eloquence  was  so  great,  that 
Homer  describes  his  words,  dropping  from  his  lips  like  honey. 

The  moral  of  this  Fable  is  contained  in  these  beautiful  lines:— "It 
enjoins  us  not  to  repine  at  the  dispensations  of  Providence,  but  to  be  con- 
tented in  our  respective  situations ;  to  act  in  the  best  manner  we  are  able 
the  part  assigned  to  us  by  Heaven,  and  not  to  give  way  to  discontent, 
which  the  author  of  'The  Night  Thoughts'  justly  calls,  'Incurable 
consumption  of  our  peace ' "  (Night  7,  L  30). 



IMPERTINENCE  at  first  is  borne 
With  heedless  slight,  or  smiles  of  scorn : 
Teased  into  wrath,  what  patience  bears 
The  noisy  fool  who  perseveres  ? 

The  morning  wakes,  the  Huntsman  sounds, 
At  once  rush  forth  the  joyful  Hounds ; 
They  seek  the  wood  with  eager  pace, 
Through  bush,  through  brier,  explore  the  chase. 


184  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Now  scatter'd  wide  they  try  the  plain, 
And  snuff  the  dewy  turf  in  vain. 
What  care,  what  industry,  what  pains ! 
What  universal  silence  reigns ! 

Eingwood,  a  dog  of  little  fame, 
Young,  pert,  and  ignorant  of  game, 
At  once  displays  his  babbling  throat ; 
The  pack,  regardless  of  the  note, 
Pursue  the  scent ;  with  louder  strain 
He  still  persists  to  vex  the  train. 

The  Huntsman  to  the  clamour  flies, 
The  smacking  lash  he  smartly  plies. 
His  ribs  all  welk'd,  with  howling  tone1 
The  puppy  thus  express'd  his  moan : — 

"  I  know  the  music  of  my  tongue 
Long  since  the  pack  with  envy  stung. 
What  will  not  spite  ?  these  bitter  smarts 
I  owe  to  my  superior  parts." 

"  When  Puppies  prate,"  the  Huntsman  cried, 
"  They  show  both  ignorance  and  pride : 
Fools  may  our  scorn,  not  envy,  raise ; 
For  envy  is  a  kind  of  praise. 
Had  not  thy  forward  noisy  tongue 
Proclaim'd  tbee  always  in  .the  wrong, 
Thou  might'st  have  mingled  with  the  nst, 
And  ne'er  thy  foolish  nose  confest : 
But  fools,  to  talking  ever  prone, 
Are  sure  to  make  their  follies  known."2 

1  Welles.    Means  those  lumps  or  wales  which  the  application  of  a  whip 
leaves  upon  the  skin ;  it  is  still  used  in  that  sense  in  some  of  the  northern 

2  This  Fable  is  ably  drawn  to  show  the  impossibility  of  teaching  ignorance 
its  own  folly,  when  corroborated  (as  always)  by  self-conceit. 



I  HATE  the  man  who  builds  his  name 
On  ruins  of  another's  fame : 
Thus  prudes,  by  characters  o'erthrown, 
Imagine  that  they  raise  their  own ; 
Thus  scribblers  covetous  of  praise, 
Think  slander  can  transplant  the  bays. 
Beauties  and  bards  have  equal  pride, 
With  both  all  rivals  are  decried. 
Who  praises  Lesbia's  eyes  and  feature, 
Must  call  her  sister  "  awkward  creature  ; " 


186  GAY'S  FABLES. 

For  the  kind  flattery's  sure  to  charm, 
When  we  some  other  nymph  disarm. 

As  in  the  cool  of  early  day 
A  Poet  sought  the  sweets  of  May, 
The  garden's  fragrant  breath  ascends, 
And  every  stalk  with  odour  bends. 
A  Eose  he  pluck'd  :  he  gazed,  admired, 
Thus  singing,  as  the  Muse  inspired : — 
"  Go,  Eose,  my  Chloe's  bosom  grace ; 

How  happy  should  I  prove, 
Might  I  supply  that  envied  place 

With  never-fading  love  ! 
There,  Phoenix-like,  beneath  her  eye,1 
Involved  in  fragrance,  burn  and  die. 

"Know,  hapless  flower!  that  thou  shalt  find 
More  fragrant  Eoses  there : 

see  thy  withering  head  reclined 

With  envy  and  despair ! 
One  common  fate  we  both  must  prove ; 
You  die  with  envy,  I  with  love." 

"  Spare  your  comparisons,"  replied 
An  angry  Eose,  who  grew  beside ; 
"  Of  all  mankind  you  should  not  flout  us, 
What  can  a  Poet  do  without  us ! 
In  every  love-song  Eoses  bloom, 
We  lend  you  colour  and  perfume. 
Does  it  to  Chloe's  charms  conduce, 
To  found  her  praise  on  our  abuse  ? 
Must  we,  to  flatter  her,  be  made 
To  wither,  envy,  pine,  and  fade  ? " 

i  Phoenix-like.  Gay  alludes  to  the  fabulous  story  of  the  Phoenix,  a  bird 
which  was  supposed  by  the  ancients,  at  the  conclusion  of  a  long  term  of  years, 
to  burn  itself  on  a  pile  of  sweet-wood  and  aromatic  gums,  and  to  fire  it  with 
the  wafting  of  its  wings,  and  from  its  ashes  was  said  to  arise  a  young  Phoenix. 



THE  lad  of  all-sufficient  merit, 
With  modesty  ne'er  damps  his  spirit ; 
Presuming  on  his  own  deserts, 
On  all  alike  his  tongue  exerts : 
His  noisy  jokes  at  random  throws, 
And  pertly  spatters  friends  and  foes. 
In  wit  and  war  the  bully  race 
Contribute  to  their  own  disgrace : 

188  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Too  late  the  forward  youth  shall  find 
That  jokes  are  sometimes  paid  in  kind ; 
Or  if  *they  canker  in  the  breast, 
He  makes  a  foe,  who  makes  a  jest. 

A  village  Cur,  of  snappish  race, 
The  pertest  puppy  of  the  place, 
Imagined  that  his  treble  throat 
Was  blest  with  Music's  sweetest  note : 
In  the  mid  road  he  basking  lay, 
The  yelping  nuisance  of  the  way ; 
For  not  a  creature  pass'd  along 
But  had  a  sample  of  his  song, 
Soon  as  the  trotting  Steed  he  hears, 
He  starts,  he  cocks  his  dapper  ears ; 
Away  he  scours,  assaults  his  hoof ; 
Now  near  him  snarls,  now  barks  aloof ! 
With  shrill  impertinence  attends, 
Nor  leaves  him  till  the  village  ends. 
It  chanced,  upon  his  evil  day, 
A  Pad  came  pacing  down  the  way ; 
The  Cur,  with  never-ceasing  tongue, 
Upon  the  passing  traveller  sprung. 
The  Horse,  from  scorn  provoked  to  ire; 
Flung  backward ;  rolling  in  the  mire, 
The  Puppy  howl'd,  and  bleeding  lay ; 
The  Pad  in  peace  pursued  his  way. 

A  Shepherd's  Dog,  who  saw  the  deed, 
Detesting  the  vexatious  breed, 
Bespoke  him  thus :  "  When  coxcombs  prate; 
They  kindle  wrath,  contempt,  or  hate ; 
Thy  teazing  tongue  had  judgment  tied, 
Thou  hadst  not  like  a  puppy  died." 



DEATH,  on  a  solemn  night  of  state, 
In  all  his  pomp  of  terror  sate  : 
Th'  attendants  of  his  gloomy  reign, 
Diseases  dire, — a  ghastly  train — 
Crowd  the  vast  court !  "With  hollow  tone 
A  voice  thus  thunder'd  from  the  throne  : 
"  This  night  our  minister  we  name ; 
Let  every  servant  speak  his  claim ; 
Merit  shall -bear  this  ebon  wand." — 
All,  at  the  word,  stretch'd  forth  their  hand. 

190  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Fever,  with  burning  heat  possess'd, 
Advanced,  and  for  the  wand  address'd  i1 

"  I  to  the  weekly  bills  appeal, 
Let  those  express  my  fervent  zeal ; 
On  every  slight  occasion  near, 
With  violence  I  persevere." 

Next  Gout  appears  with  limping  pace, 
Pleads  how  he  shifts  from  place  to  place ; 
From  head  to  foot  how  swift  he  flies, 
And  every  joint  and  sinew  plies ; 
Still  working  when  he  seems  suppress'd, 
A  most  tenacious  stubborn  guest.2 

A  haggard  Spectre  from  the  crew 
Crawls  forth,  and  thus  asserts  his  due  : 
"  'Tis  I  who  taint  the  sweetest  joy, 
And  in  the  shape  of  Love  destroy : 
My  shanks,  sunk  eyes,  and  noseless  face, 
Prove  my  pretension  to  the  place." 

Stone  urg'd  his  ever-growing  force  ; 
And  next,  Consumption's  meagre  corse, 
With  feeble  voice,  that  scarce  was  heard, 
Broke  with  short  coughs,  his  suit  preferr'd  : 
"  Let  none  object  my  lingering  way, 
I  gain,  like  Fabius,  by  delay ; 
Fatigue  and  weaken  every  foe 
By  long  attack,  secure,  though  slow."3 

1  Fever,  the  offspring  of  poverty  and  dirt,  nursed  by  parochial  neglect, 
pampered  by  intoxication,  and  at  last  buried  at  the  public  charge !— OWEI:. 

3  Gout,  the  son  of  sloth  and  sensuality,  half-brother  to  fever,  and 
descended  in  many  cases  from  the  "haggard  spectre"  hereinafter  named. 

3  This  living  death  is  seen,  in  its  early  stages,  in  manufacturing  towns, 
where  young  bones  and  sinews  are  dissolved  in  gold,  with  which  the 
employers  purchase  positions  in  parliament,  where  they  prate  about 
educating  the  ignorant,  the  rights  of  the  poor,  and  enunciate  principles  of 
peace  and  charity ! — Vide  Minutea  of  the  Factory  Syntem  before  the 
Hoase  of  Common*.— OWEN. 



Plague  represents  his  rapid  power, 
Who  thinn'd  a  nation  in  an  hour. 

All  spoke  their  claim,  and  hoped  the  wand. — 
Now  expectation  hush'd  the  band, 
When  thus  the  Monarch  from  the  throne : 

"  Merit  was  ever  modest  known. 
What,  no  Physician  speak  his  right ! 
None  here !  but  fees  their  toils  requite. 
Let  then  Intemperance  take  the  wand, 
Who  fills  with  gold  their  zealous  hand. 
You,  Fever,  Gout,  and  all  the  rest, 
(Whom  wary  men,  as  foes,  detest) 
Forego  your  claim ;  no  more  pretend ; 
Intemperance  is  esteem'd  a  friend. 
He  shares  their  mirth,  their  social  joys, 
And  as  a  courted  guest  destroys  : 
The  charge  on  him  must  justly  fall, 
Who  finds  employment  for  you  all.1 

1  This  admirable  but  melancholy  picture  of  the  "thousand  natural  ills  that 
flesh  is  heir  to,"  is  one  of  the  finest  efforts  of  the  poet's  muse,  and  the  deduc- 
tion is  forcible  and  clear. — OWEN. 



A  GARDENER  of  peculiar  taste, 
On  a  young  Hog  his  favour  placed, 
Who  fed  not  with  the  common  herd ; 
His  tray  was  to  the  hall  preferred : 
He  wallow'd  underneath  the  board, 
Or  in  his  master's  chamber  snored, 
Who  fondly  stroked  him  every  day, 
And  taught  him  all  the  puppy's  play. 
Where'er  he  went,  the  grunting  friend 
Ne'er  fail'd  his  pleasure  to  attend. 

THE   GARDENER    AND   THE   HOG.  193 

As  on  a  time  the  loving  pair 
Walk'd  forth  to  tend  the  garden's  care, 
The  master  thus  address'd  the  Swine : 

"  My  house,  my  garden,  all  is  thine ! 
On  turnips  feast  whene'er  you  please, 
And  riot  in  my  beans  and  peas ; 
If  the  potato's  taste  delights, 
Or  the  red  carrot's  sweet  invites, 
Indulge  thy  morn  and  evening  hours, 
But  let  due  care  regard  my  flow'rs : 
My  tulips  are  my  garden's  pride : 
What  vast  expense  those  beds  supplied ! " 

The  Hog  by  chance  one  morning  roam'd, 
Where  with  new  ale  the  vessels  foam'd  : 
He  munches  now  the  steaming  grains, 
Now  with  full  swill  the  liquor  drains. 
Intoxicating  fumes  arise ; 
He  reels,  he  rolls  his  winking  eyes ; 
Then  staggering  through  the  garden  scours, 
And  treads  down  painted  ranks  of  flowers : 
With  delving  snout  he  turns  the  soil, 
And  cools  his  palate  with  the  spoil. 

The  master  came,  the  ruin  spied  ; 
"  Villain ;  suspend  thy  rage,"  he  cried, 
"  Hast  thou,  thou  most  ungrateful  sot, 
My  charge,  my  only  charge,  forgot  ? 
What,  all  my  flowers  ! "  no  more  he  said, 
But  gazed  and  sigh'd,  and  hung  his  head. 

The  Hog,  with  stuttering  speech  returns : 
"  Explain,  Sir,  why  your  anger  burns. 
See  there,  untouch'd,  your  tulips  strown, 
For  I  devour'd  the  roots  alone." 


194  GAY'S   FABLES. 

At  this  the  Gardener's  passion  grows ; 
From  oaths  and  threats  he  fell  to  blows : 
The  stubborn  brute  the  blow  sustains, 
Assaults  his  leg,  and  tears  the  veins. 

Ah !  foolish  Swain !  too  late  you  find 
That  styes  were  for  such  friends  design'd ! 
Homeward  he  limps  with  painful  pace, 
Eeflecting  thus  on  past  disgrace — 
"  Who  cherishes  a  brutal  mate, 
Shall  mourn  the  folly  soon  or  late." 



WHETHER  on  earth,  in  air,  or  main, 
Sure  everything  alive  is  vain ! 

Does  not  the  hawk  all  fowls  survey, 
As  destined  only  for  his  prey  ? 
And  do  not  tyrants,  prouder  things, 
Think  men  were  born  for  slaves  to  kings  ? 

When  the  crab  views  the  pearly  strands,1 
Or  Tagus,  bright  with  golden  sands  ;2 

i  Pearly  strands.    The  beds  of  oysters  in  the  Eastern  seas,  in  which  the 
pearls  are  contained  and  fished  for. 

•  2  The  Tagus,  a  river  in  ancient  Lusitania,  on  whose  banks  Lisbon  is  situ- 
ated, supposed  to  abound  in  gold-dust. 

Rowe,  in  his  "  Ode  on  the  King's  Birthday,"  1718,  had  said,  before  Gay:— 
"  And  Tagus  bright  in  sands  of  gold." 


13 — 2 

196  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Or  crawls  beside  the  coral  grove, 
And  hears  the  ocean  roll  above ; 
"  Nature  is  too  profuse,"  says  he, 
"  Who  gave  all  these  to  pleasure  me ! " 

When  bordering  pinks  and  roses  bloom, 
And  every  garden  breathes  perfume ; 
When  peaches  glow  with  sunny  dyes, 
Like  Laura's  cheek  when  blushes  rise ; 
When  the  huge  figs  the  branches  bend, 
When  clusters  from  the  vine  depend, 
The  snail  looks  round  on  flower  and  tree, 
And  cries,  "  All  these  were  made  for  me ! " 

"  What  dignity's  in  human  nature  ? " 
Says  Man,  the  most  conceited  creature, 
As  from  a  cliff  he  casts  his  eye, 
And  view'd  the  sea  and  arched  sky. 
The  sun  was  sunk  beneath  the  main ; 
The  moon  and  all  the  starry  train 
Hung  the  vast  vault  of  Heaven :  the  Man 
His  contemplation  thus  began : 

"  When  I  behold  this  glorious  show, 
And  the  wide  watery  world  below, 
The  scaly  people  of  the  main, 
The  beasts  that  range  the  wood  or  plain, 
The  wing'd  inhabitants  of  air, 
The  day,  the  night,  the  various  year, 
And  know  all  these  by  Heaven  design 'd 
As  gifts  to  pleasure  human-kind, 
I  cannot  raise  my  worth  too  high ; 
Of  what  vast  consequence  am  I ! " 

"  Not  of  th'  importance  you  suppose," 
Replies  a  Flea  upon  his  nose : 

THE   MAX   AND-  THE   FLEA.  197 

"  Be  humble,  learn  thyself  to  scan ; 
Know,  pride  was  never  made  for  man, 
'Tis  vanity  that  swells  thy  mind, 
What,  Heaven  and  earth  for  thee  design 'd ! 
For  thee,  made  only  for  our  need, 
That  more  important  Fleas  might  feed." 



FRIENDSHIP,  like  love,  is  but  a  name, 
Unless  to  one,  you  stint  the  flame. 
The  child,  whom  many  fathers  share, 
Hath  seldom  known  a  father's  care. 
'Tis  thus  in  friendships ;  who  depend 
On  many,  rarely  find  a  friend. 
A  Hare  who,  in  a  civil  way, 
Complied  with  everything,  like  GAY, 
Was  known  by  all  the  bestial  train 
Who  haunt  the  wood  or  graze  the  plain ; 


Her  care  was  never  to  offend, 
And  every  creature  was  her  friend. 

As  forth  she  went,  at  early  dawn, 
To  taste  the  dew-besprinkled  lawn, 
Behind,  she  hears  the  hunter's  cries, 
And  from  the  deep-mouth'd  thunder,  flies : 
She  starts,  she  stops,  she  pants  for  breath ; 
She  hears  the  near  advance  of  death ; 
She  doubles  to  mislead  the  hound, 
And  measures  back  her  mazy  round, 
Till,  fainting  in  the  public  way, 
Half  dead  with  fear,  she  gasping  lay. 

What  transport  in  her  bosom  grew, 
When  first  the  Horse  appear'd  in  view ! 

"  Let  me,"  says  she,  "  your  back  ascend, 
And  owe  my  safety  to  a  friend. 
You  know  my  feet  betray  my  flight : 
To  friendship  every  burden's  light." 

The  Horse  replied,  "  Poor  honest  puss, 
It  grieves  my  heart  to  see  thee  thus : 
Be  comforted,  relief  is  near, 
For  all  your  friends  are  in  the  rear." 

She  next  the  stately  Bull  implored ; 
And  thus  replied  the  mighty  lord : 
"  Since  every  beast  alive  can  tell 
That  I  sincerely  wish  you  well ; 
I  may,  without  offence,  pretend 
To  take  the  freedom  of  a  friend. 
Love  calls  me  hence ;  a  favourite  cow 
Expects  me  near  yon  barley-mow ; 
And  when  a  lady's  in  the  case, 
You  know  all  other  things  give  place. 

200  GAY'S  FABLES. 

To  leave  you  thus  might  seem  unkind, 
But  see,  the  Goat  is  just  behind." 

The  Goat  remark'd  her  pulse  was  high, 
Her  languid  head,  her  heavy  eye : 
"  My  back,"  says  he,  "  may  do  you  harm ; 
The  Sheep's  at  hand,  and  wool  is  warm." 

The  Sheep  was  feeble,  and  complain'd 
His  sides  a  load  of  wool  sustain'd ; 
Said  he  was  slow ;  confess'd  his  fears ; 
For  hounds  eat  sheep  as  well  as  Hares. 

She  now  the  trotting  Calf  address'd, 
To  save  from  death  a  friend  distress'd : 

"  Shall  I,"  says  he,  "  of  tender  age, 
In  this  important  care  engage  ? 
Older  and  abler  pass'd  you  by ; 
How  strong  are  those  !  how  weak  am  I ! 
Should  I  presume  to  bear  you  hence, 
Those  friends  of  mine  may  take  offence. 
Excuse  me,  then :  you  know  my  heart ; 
But  dearest  friends,  alas !  must  part. 
How  shall  we  all  lament !    Adieu, 
For  see,  the  hounds  are  just  in  view." 

1  This  Fable  is  the  most  nat  iral  and  delightful  of  the  whole  set  and  is 
the  most  interesting,  because  Gay  designed  himself  under  the  character 
of  the  Hare,  for  no  man  was  ever  more  beloved,  no  man  had  more  friends, 
and  yet  no  man  ever  gamed  less  by  them  than  poor  Gay.  Hence  Pope 
says  of  him,  '  Gay  dies  unpensioned  with  a  hundred  friends."— COXE. 

In  this,  the  most  masterly  of  our  poet's  fables,  and  hence  deservedly 
the  most  popular,  he  follows  out  the  ramifications  of  human  treachery, 
and  shows  how  deceit  is  universally  allied  to  cowardice,  and  hypocrisy  to 
equivocation. — OWEN. 



THESE  Fables  were  finished  by  Mr.  Gay,  and  intended  for  the  Press, 
a  short  time  before  his  Death ;  when  they  were  left,  with  his 
other  Papers,  to  the  care  of  his  noble  Friend  and  Patron,  the 
Duke  of  Queensberry.  His  Grace  has  accordingly  permitted 
them  to  the  Press,  and  they  are  here  printed  from  the  Originals 
in  the  Author's  own  Hand-writing.  We  hope  they  will  please 
equally  with  his  former  Fables,  though  mostly  on  Subjects  of 
a  graver  and  more  political  turn :  They  will  certainly  shew 
Him  to  have  been  (what  he  esteemed  the  best  Character)  a  Man 
of  a  truly  honest  Heart,  and  a  sincere  Lover  of  his  Country. 




I  KNOW  you  Lawyers  can,  with  ease, 
Twist  words  and  meanings  as  you  please ; 
That  language,  by  your  skill  made  pliant, 
Will  bend  to  favour  every  client ; 
That  'tis  the  fee  directs  the  sense, 
To  make  out  either  side's  pretence. 
When  you  peruse  the  clearest  case, 
You  see  it  with  a  double  face : 

203  V 

204  GAY'S  FABLES. 

For  scepticism  is  your  profession ; 

You  hold  there's  doubt  in  all  expression. 

Hence  is  the  bar  with  fees  supplied, 
Hence  eloquence  takes  either  side. 
Your  hand  would  have  but  paltry  gleaning, 
Could  every  man  express  his  meaning. 
Who  dares  presume  to  pen  a  deed, 
Unless  you  previously  are  fee'd  ? 
'Tis  drawn ;  and,  to  augment  the  cost, 
In  dull  prolixity  engross'd. 
And  now  we're  well  secured  by  law, 
Till  the  next  brother  find  a  flaw. 

Eead  o'er  a  will.     Was't  ever  known 
But  you  could  make  the  will  your  own  ? 
For  when  you  read,  'tis  with  intent 
To  find  out  meanings  never  meant. 
Since  things  are  thus,  se  defendendo* 
I  bar  fallacious  innuendo? 

Sagacious  Porta's  skill  could  trace  3 
Some  beast  or  bird  in  every  face. 
The  head,  the  eye,  the  nose's  shape, 
Proved  this  an  owl,  and  that  an  ape ; 
When,  in  the  sketches  thus  design'd, 
Resemblance  brings  some  friend  to  mind, 
You  show  the  piece,  and  give  the  hint, 
And  find  each  feature  in  the  print ; 
So  monstrous-like  the  portrait's  found, 
All  know  it,  and  the  laugh  goes  round. 

i  Law  expressions.  Se  defendcndo,  to  speak  in  his  own  defence,  or  to  be 
advocate  in  his  own  cause. 

8  I  bar  fallacious  innuendo,  means,  I  except  deceitful  insinuations. 

3  Sagacious  Porta.  Giovanni  Baptista  Porta  was  a  great  philosopher  and 
mathematician,  born  at  Naples  1540.  The  work  alluded  to  by  Gay  is  "  De 
Humana  Physiognomonia."  Porta  died  1615. 

THE  DOG  AND  THE  FOX.  205 

Like  him  I  draw  from  general  nature ; 
Is't  I  or  you,  then,  fix  the  satire  ? — 

So,  Sir,  I  beg  you  spare  your  pains 
In  making  comments  on  my  strains. 
All  private  slander  I  detest, 
I  judge  not  of  my  neighbour's  breast : 
Party  and  prejudice  I  hate, 
And  write  no  libels  on  the  State. 

Shall  not  my  Fable  censure  vice,1 
Because  a  knave  is  over  nice  ? 
And,  lest  the  guilty  hear  and  dread, 
Shall  not  the  decalogue  be  read  ? 
If  I  lash  vice  in  general  fiction, 
Is't  I  apply,  or  self-conviction  ? 
Brutes  are  my  theme  ;  am  I  to  blame, 
If  men  in  morals  are  the  same  ? 
I  no  man  call  or  ape  or  ass ; 
'Tis  his  own  conscience  holds  the  glass. 
Thus  void  of  all  offence,  I  write : 
Who  claims  the  fable  knows  his  right. 

A  shepherd's  Dog,  unskill'd  in  sports, 
Pick'd  up  acquaintance  of  all  sorts ; 
Among  the  rest,  a  Fox  he  knew  : 
By  frequent  chat,  their  friendship  grew. 

Says  Eeynard,  "  'Tis  a  cruel  case, 
That  man  should  stigmatize  our  race. 
No  doubt,  among  us,  rogues  you  find, 
As  among  dogs  and  human  kind ; 

Gay  has  introduced  a  similar  sentiment  in  the  Beggar's  Opera  :- 

"  When  you  censure  the  age, 

Be  cautious  and  sage, 
Lest  the  courtiers  offended  should  be 

If  you  mention  vice  or  bribe, 

'Tis  so  pat  to  all  the  tribe ; 
Each  cries,— that  was  levell'd  at  me." 

206  GAY'S  FABLES. 

And  yet  (unknown  to  me  and  you) 
There  may  be  honest  men  and  true. 
Thus  slander  tries  whatever  it  can 
To  put  us  on  the  foot  with  man. 
Let  my  own  actions  recommend ; 
No  prejudice  can  blind  a  friend : 
You  know  me  free  from  all  disguise ; 
My  honour  as  my  life,  I  prize." 

By  talk  like  this,  from  all  mistrust 
The  Dog  was  cured,  and  thought  him  just. 

As  on  a  time  the  Fox  held  forth 
On  conscience,  honesty,  and  worth, 
Sudden  he  stopp'd ;  he  cock'd  his  ear ; 
Low  dropt  his  brushy  tail  with  fear. 

"  Bless  us !  the  hunters  are  abroad  : 
What's  all  that  clatter  on  the  road  ?" 

"  Hold,"  says  the  Dog,  "  we're  safe  from  harm, 
'Twas  nothing  but  a  false  alarm  : 
At  yonder  town  'tis  market  day ; 
Some  farmer's  wife  is  on  the  way ; 
'Tis  so ;  I  know  her  piebald  mare, 
Dame  Dobbins  with  her  poultry-ware." 

Eeynard  grew  huff.     Says  he,  "  This  sneer 
From  you  I  little  thought  to  hear; 
Your  meaning  in  your  looks  I  see : 
Pray  what's  Dame  Dobbins,  friend,  to  me  ? 
Did  I  e'er  make  her  poultry  thinner  ? 
Prove  that  I  owe  the  dame  a  dinner." 

"  Friend,"  quoth  the  Cur,  "  I  meant  no  harm ; 
Then  why  so  captious,  why  so  warm  ? 
My  words,  in  common  acceptation, 
Could  never  give  this  provocation. 

THE  DOG  AND  THE  FOX.  207 

No  lamb,  for  aught  I  ever  knew, 

May  be  more  innocent  than  you." 

At  this,  gall'd  Eeynard  winced,  and  swore 

Such  language  ne'er  was  given  before. 

"  What's  lamb  to  me  ?  this  saucy  hint 
Shows  me,  base  knave,  which  way  you  squint. 
If  t'other  night  your  master  lost 
Three  lambs,  am  I  to  pay  the  cost  ? 
Your  vile  reflections  would  imply 
That  I'm  the  thief :— You  Dog,  you  lie ! " 

"  Thou  knave,  thou  fool,"  the  Dog  replied, 
"  The  name  is  just,  take  either  side ; . 
Thy  guilt  these  applications  speak ; 
Sirrah,  'tis  conscience  makes  you  squeak." 

So  saying,  on  the  Fox  he  flies ; 
The  self-convicted  felon  dies. 




ERE  I  begin,  I  must  premise 
Our  ministers  are  good  and  wise 
So,  though  malicious  tongues  apply, 
Pray  what  care  they,  or  what  care  I  ? 

If  I  am  free  with  courts,  be't  known, 
I  ne'er  presume  to  mean  our  own. 
If  general  morals  seem  to  joke 
On  ministers,  and  such-like  folk, 



A  captious  fool  may  take  offence, 
What  then  ?     He  knows  his  own  pretence.1 
.1  meddle  with  no  State  affairs, 
But  spare  my  jest  to  save  rny  ears. 
Our  present  schemes  are  too  profound, 
For  Machiavel  himself,  to  sound ; 2 
To  censure  'em  I've  no  pretension, 
I  own  they're  past  my  comprehension. 

You  say,  your  brother  wants  a  place, 
('Tis  many  a  younger  brother's  case,) 
And  that  he  very  soon  intends 
To  ply  the  court,  and  teaze  his  friends. 
If  there  his  merits  chance  to  find 
A  patriot  of  an  open  mind, 
Whose  constant  actions  prove  him  just 
To  both  a  king's  and  people's  trust, 
May  he,  with  gratitude,  attend, 
And  owe  his  rise  to  such  a  friend. 

You  praise  his  parts,  for  business  fit, 
His  learning,  probity,  and  wit ; 
But  those  alone-  will  never  do, 
Unless  his  patron  have  'em  too. 

I've  heard  of  times  (pray  God  defend  us ! 
We're  not  so  good  but  he  can  mend  us) 
When  wicked  ministers  have  trod 
On  kings  and  people,  law  and  God ; 

1  The  word  "  pretence"  is  here  used  in  the  sense  of  "design"  or  "pur- 
pose," as  in  Shakespeare's  Gentlemen  of  Verona,  Winter's  Tale,  etc.— 

2  Nicholas  Machiavelli,  a  native  of  Florence,  a  famous  writer  of  plays 
historical  and  other  works.      The  work  to  which  Gay  alludes,  is  his 
"  Prince,"  or  treatise  of  politics,  in  which  he  describes,  under  the  character 
of  Caesar  Borgia,  the  arts  of  government,  as  they  are  too  often  practised 
by  wicked  princes  and  tyrants.    See  alno  Fable  5,  line  45. 

In  his  "Bural  Sports,"  Gay  has  also  Machiavel  for  a  politician: — 

Each  rival  Machiavel  with  envy  burns, 
And  honesty  forsakes  them  all  by  turns." 


210  GAY'S  FABLES. 

With  arrogance  they  girt  the  throne, 
And  knew  no  interest  but  their  own. 
Then  virtue,  from  preferment  barr'd, 
Gets  nothing,  but  its  own  reward. 
A  gang  of  petty  knaves  attend  'em, 
With  proper  parts  to  recommend  'em. 
Then  if  his  patron  burn  with  lust, 
The  first  in  favour's  pimp  the  first. 
His  doors  are  never  closed  to  spies, 
Who  cheer  his  heart  with  double  lies ; 
They  natter  him,  his  foes  defame, 
So  lull  the  pangs  of  guilt  and  shame. 
If  schemes  of  lucre  haunt  his  brain, 
Projectors  swell  his  greedy  train  : 
Vile  brokers  ply  his  private  ear 
With  jobs  of  plunder  for  the  year ; 
All  consciences  must  bend  and  ply ; 
You  must  vote  on  and  not  know  why : 
Through  thick  and  thin  you  must  go  on ; 
One  scruple,  and  your  place  is  gone. 

Since  plagues  like  these  have  cursed  a  land, 
And  favourites  cannot  always  stand, 
Good  courtiers  should  for  change  be  ready, 
And  not  have  principles  too  steady ; 
For  should  a  knave  engross  the  power, 
(God  shield  the  realm  from  that  sad  hour !) 
He  must  have  rogues  or  slavish  fools ; 
For  what's  a  knave  without  his  tools  ? 

Wherever  those  a  people  drain, 
And  strut  with  infamy  and  gain, 
I  envy  not  their  guilt  and  state, 
And  scorn  to  share  the  public  hate. 


Let  their  own  servile  creatures  rise, 
By  screening  fraud,  and  venting  lies  : 
Give  me,  kind  Heaven,  a  private  station, 
A  mind  serene  for  contemplation  : 
Title  and  profit  I  resign ; 
The  post  of  honour  shall  be  mine. 
My  Fable  read,  their  merits  view, 
Then  herd  who  will,  with  such  a  crew. 

In  days  of  yore  (my  cautious  rhymes 
Always  except  the  present  times) 
A  greedy  Vulture,  skill'd  in  game, 
Inured  to  guilt,  unawed  by  shame, 
Approach' d  the  throne  in  evil  hour, 
And  step  by  step  intrudes  to  power : 
When  at  the  royal  Eagle's  ear, 
He  longs  to  ease  the  monarch's  care. 
The  monarch  grants.     With  pride  elate, 
Behold  him  minister  of  state  ! 
Around  him  throng  the  feather'd  rout ; 
Friends  must  be  served,  and  some  must  out ; 
Each  thinks  his  own  the  best  pretension ; 
This  asks  a  place,  and  that  a  pension. 

The  Nightingale  was  set  aside : 
A  forward  Daw  his  room  supplied. 

"  This  bird,"  says  he,  "  for  business  fit, 
Hath  both  sagacity  and  wit : 
With  all  his  turns,  and  shifts,  and  tricks, 
He's  docile,  and  at  nothing  sticks : 
Then  with  his  neighbours  one  so  free 
At  all  times  will  connive  at  me." 

The  Hawk  had  due  distinction  shown, 
For  parts  and  talents  like  his  own. 

14 — 2 

212  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Thousands  of  hireling  Cocks  attend  him, 
As  blustering  bullies  to  defend  him. 

At  once  the  Havens  were  discarded, 
And  Magpies  with  their  posts  rewarded. 

Those  fowls  of  omen  I  detest, 
That  pry  into  another's  nest. 
State-lies  must  lose  all  good  intent, 
For  they  foresee  and  croak  th'  event. 
My  friends  ne'er  think,  but  talk  by  rote, 
Speak  what  they're  taught,  and  so  to  vote. 

"  When  rogues  like  these,"  a  Sparrow  cries, 
"  To  honours  and  employments  rise, 
I  court  no  favour,  ask  no  place, 
For  such  preferment  is  disgrace. 
Within  my  thatch'd  retreat  I  find 
(What  these  ne'er  feel)  true  peace  of  mind." 




WE  frequently  misplace  esteem, 
By  judging  men  by  what  they  seem. 
To  birth,  wealth,  power,  we  should  allow 
Precedence,  and  our  lowest  bow : 
In  that  is  due  distinction  shown ; 
Esteem  is  Virtue's  right  alone. 

With  partial  eye  w^e're  apt  to  see 
The  man  of  noble  pedigree : 


214  GAY'S  FABLES. 

We're  prepossess'd  my  Lord  inherits, 
In  some  degree,  his  grandsire's  merits ; 
For  those  we  find  upon  record, 
But  find  him  nothing  but  "  my  Lord." 

When  we,  with  superficial  view, 
Gaze  on  the  rich,  we're  dazzled  too. 
We  know  that  wealth,  well  understood, 
Hath  frequent  power  of  doing  good, 
Then  fancy  that  the  thing  is  done ; 
As  if  the  power  and  will  were  one. 
Thus  oft  the  cheated  crowd  adore 
The  thriving  knaves  that  keep  'em  poor. 

The  cringing  train  of  power  survey ; 
What  creatures  are  so  low  as  they ! 
With  what  obsequiousness  they  bend ! 
To  what  vile  actions  condescend ! 
Their  rise  is  on  their  meanness  built, 
And  flattery  is  their  smallest  guilt. 
What  homage,  reverence,  adoration, 
In  every  age,  in  every  nation, 
Have  sycophants,  to  power  address'd ! 
No  matter  who  the  power  possess'd. 
Let  ministers  be  what  they  will, 
You  find  their  levees  always  fill. 
E'en  those  who  have  perplex'd  a  State, 
Whose  actions  claim  contempt  and  hate, 
Had  wretches  to  applaud  their  schemes, 
Though  more  absurd  than  madmen's  dreams. 
When  barbarous  Moloch  was  invoked, 
The  blood  of  infants  only  smoked ! 1 

1  In  allusion  to  the   sacrifices  to  Moloch,  the  principal  idol  of  the 


But  here  (unless  all  History  lies) 
Whole  realms  have  been  a  sacrifice 

Look  through  all  courts  :  'tis  power  we  find 
The  general  idol  of  mankind, 
There  worshipp'd  under  every  shape : 
Alike  the  lion,  fox,  and  ape, 
Are  follow'd  by  time-serving  slaves, 
Eich  prostitutes  and  needy  knaves. 

Who  then  shall  glory  in  his  post  ? 
How  frail  his  pride,  how  vain  his  boast ! 
The  followers  of  his  prosperous  hour 
Are  as  unstable  as  his  power. 
Power,  by  the  breath  of  Flattery  nurst, 
The  more  it  swells  is  nearer  burst. 
The  bubble  breaks,  the  gewgaw  ends, 
And  in  a  dirty  tear  descends. 

Once  on  a  time,  an  ancient  maid, 
By  wishes  and  by  time  decay'd 
To  cure  the  pangs  of  restless  thought, 
In  birds  and  beasts  amusement  sought : 
Dogs,  parrots,  apes,  her  hours  employ'd ; 
With  these  alone  she  talk'd  and  toy'd. 

A  huge  Baboon  her  fancy  took, 
(Almost  a  man  in  size  and  look) 
He  finger'd  everything  he  found, 
And  mimic'd  all  the  servants  round. 
Then,  too,  his  parts  and  ready  wit 
Show'd  him  for  every  business  fit. 
With  all  these  talents  'twas  but  just 
That  Pug  should  hold  a  place  of  trust ; 
So  to  her  favourite  was  assign'd 
The  charge  of  all  her  feather'd  kind. 


'Twas  his  to  tend  'em  eve  and  morn, 

And  portion  out  their  daily  corn. 

Behold  him  now,  with  haughty  stride, 

Assume  a  ministerial  pride. 

The  morning  rose.     In  hope  of  picking, 

Swans,  turkeys,  peacocks,  ducks,  and  chicken, 

Fowls  of  all  ranks  surround  his  hut, 

To  worship  his  important  strut. 

The  minister  appears  :  the  crowd, 

Now  here,  now  there,  obsequious  bow'd. 

This  praised  his  parts,  and  that  his  face, 

T'other  his  dignity  in  place. 

From  bill  to  bill  the  flattery  ran : 

He  hears  and  bears  it  like  a  man ; 

For  when  we  flatter  Self-conceit, 
We  but  his  sentiments  repeat. 

If  we're  too  scrupulously  just, 
What  profit's  in  a  place  of  trust  ? 
The  common  practice  of  the  great 
Is  to  secure  a  snug  retreat : 
So  Pug  began  to  turn  his  brain 
(Like  other  folks  in  place)  on  gain. 
An  apple-woman's  stall  was  near, 
Well  stock'd  with  fruits  through  all  the  year ; 
Here  every  day  he  cramm'd  his  guts, 
Hence  were  his  hoards  of  pears  and  nuts ; 
For  'twas  agreed  (in  way  of  trade) 
His  payments  should  in  corn  be  made. 

The  stock  of  grain  was  quickly  spent, 
And  no  account  which  way  it  went. 
Then,  too,  the  Poultry's  starved  condition 
Caused  speculations  of  suspicion. 


The  facts  were  proved  beyond  dispute, 
Pug  must  refund  his  hoards  of  fruit, 
And,  though  then  minister  in  chief, 
Was  branded  as  a  public  thief. 
Disgraced,  despised,  confined  to  chains, 
He  nothing  but  his  pride  retains. 

A  Goose  pass'd  by, — he  knew  the  face, 
Seen  every  levee  while  in  place. 

"  What,  no  respect !  no  reverence  shown ! 
How  saucy  are  these  creatures  grown ! 
Not  two  days  since,"  says  he,  "  you  bow'd 
The  lowest  of  my  fawning  crowd." 

"  Proud  fool ! "  replies  the  Goose,  "  'tis  true 
Thy  corn  a  fluttering  levee  drew ; 
For  that  I  join'd  the  hungry  train, 
And  sold  thee  flattery  for  thy  grain : 
But  then,  as  now,  conceited  Ape, 
We  saw  thee  in  thy  proper  shape." 


THE    ANT    IN    OFFICE. 

You  tell  me  that  you  apprehend 
My  verse  may  touchy  folks  offend. 
In  prudence,  too,  you  think  my  rhymes 
Should  never  squint  at  courtiers'  crimes ; 
For  though  nor  this  nor  that  is  meant, 
Can  we  another's  thoughts  prevent  ? 

You  ask  me,  if  I  ever  knew 
Court-chaplains  thus,  the  lawn  pursue  ? 


I  meddle  not  with  gown  or  lawn ; 
Poets,  I  grant,  to  rise,  must  fawn. 
They  know  great  ears  are  over  nice, 
And  never  shock  their  patron's  vice. 
But  I  this  hackney  path  despise, 
'Tis  my  ambition  not  to  rise ; 
If  I  must  prostitute  the  Muse, 
The  base  conditions  I  refuse. 

I  neither  flatter  nor  defame, 
Yet  own  I  would  bring  guilt  to  shame. 
If  I  Corruption's  hand  expose, 
I  make  corrupted  men  my  foes ; 
What  then  ?  I  hate  the  paltry  tribe : 
Be  virtue  mine ;  be  theirs  the  bribe. 
I  no  man's  property  invade  ; 
Corruption's  yet  no  lawful  trade. 
Nor  would  it  mighty  ills  produce, 
Could  I  shame  bribery  out  of  use. 
I  know  'twould  cramp  most  politicians, 
Were  they  tied  down  to  these  conditions : 
'Twould  stint  their  power,  their  riches  bound, 
And  make  their  parts  seem  less  profound. 
Were  they  denied  their  proper  tools, 
How  could  they  lead  their  knaves  and  fools  ? 
Were  this  the  case,  let's  take  a  view 
What  dreadful  mischiefs  would  ensue. 
Though  it  might  aggrandize  the  State, 
Could  private  luxury  dine  on  plate  ? 
Kings  might  indeed  their  friends  reward, 
But  ministers  find  less  regard. 
Informers,  sycophants,  and  spies, 
Would  not  augument  the  year's  supplies. 

220  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Perhaps,  too,  take  away  this  prop, 
An  annual  job  or  two,  might  drop. 
Besides,  if  pensions  were  denied, 
Could  Avarice  support  its  pride  ? 
It  might  even  ministers  confound, 
And  yet  the  State  be  safe  and  sound. 

I  care  not  though  'tis  understood, 
I  only  mean  my  country's  good : 
And  (let  who  will  my  freedom  blame) 
I  wish  all  courtiers  did  the  same ; 
Nay,  though  some  folks  the  less  might  get, 
I  wish  the  nation  out  of  debt. 
I  put  no  private  man's  ambition 
With  public  good  in  competition : 
Eather  than  have  our  laws  defaced, 
I'd  vote  a  minister  disgraced. 

I  strike  at  vice,  be't  where  it  will ; 
And  what  if  great  folks  take  it  ill  ? 
I  hope  corruption,  bribery,  pension, 
One  may  with  detestation  mention ; 
Think  you  the  law  (let  who  will  take  it) 
Can  scandalum  magnatum  make  it  ? 
I  vent  no  slander,  owe  no  grudge, 
Nor  of  another's  conscience,  judge. 
At  him,  or  him,  I  take  no  aim, 
Yet  dare  against  all  vice  declaim. 
Shall  I  not  censure  breach  of  trust, 
Because  knaves  know  themselves  unjust  ? 
That  steward  whose  account  is  clear, 
Demands  his  honour  may  appear, 
His  actions  never  shun  the  light, 
He  is,  and  would  be  proved,  upright. 

THE  ANT  IN   OFFICE.  221 

But  then  you  think  my  Fable  bears 
Allusion,  too,  to  State  affairs. 

I  grant  it  does :  and  who's  so  great, 
That  has  the  privilege  to  cheat  ? 
If  then  in  any  future  reign 
(For  ministers  may  thirst  for  gain) 
Corrupted  hands  defraud  the  nation, 
I  bar  no  reader's  application. 

An  Ant  there  was,  whose  forward  prate 
Controll'd  all  matters  in  debate  ; 
Whether  he  knew  the  thing  or  no, 
His  tongue  eternally  would  go. 
For  he  had  impudence  at  will, 
And  boasted  universal  skill, 
Ambition  was  his  point  in  view : 
Thus  by  degrees  to  power  he  grew. 
Behold  him  now  his  drift  attain, 
He's  made  chief-treasurer  of  the  grain. 

But  as  their  ancient  laws  are  just, 
And  punish  breach  of  public  trust, 
'Tis  order'd  (lest  wrong  application 
Should  starve  that  wise  industrious  nation) 
That  all  accounts  be  stated  clear, 
Their  stock,  and  what  defray'd  the  year ; 
That  auditors  shall  these  inspect, 
And  public  rapine  thus  be  check'd. 
For  this  the  solemn  day  was  set ; 
The  auditors  in  council  met. 
The  granary-keeper  must  explain, 
And  balance  his  account  of  grain. 
He  brought  (since  he  could  not  refuse  'em) 
Some  scraps  of  paper  to  amuse  'em. 


An  honest  Pismire,  warm  with  zeal, 
In  justice  to  the  public  weal, 
Thus  spoke : — "  The  nation's  hoard  is  low  ; 
From  whence  does  this  profusion  flow  ? 
I  know  our  annual  fund's  amount ; 
Why  such  expense  ?  and  where's  th'  account  ? " 

With  wonted  arrogance  and  pride, 
The  Ant  in  office  thus  replied : 
"  Consider,  Sirs,  were  secrets  told, 
How  could  the  best-schemed  projects  hold  ? 
Should  we  State-mysteries  disclose, 
'Twould  lay  us  open  to  our  foes. 
My  duty  and  my  well-known  zeal 
Bid  me  our  present  schemes  conceal. 
But,  on  my  honour,  all  th'  expense 
(Though  vast)  was  for  the  swarm's  defence." 

They  pass'd  th'  account  as  fair  and  just ; 
And  voted  him  implicit  trust. 

Next  year  again  the  granary  drain'd, 
He  thus  his  innocence  maintain'd ; 

"  Think  how  our  present  matters  stand, 
What  dangers  threat  from  every  hand ; 
What  hosts  of  turkeys  stroll  for  food, 
No  farmer's  wife  but  hath  her  brood. 
Consider,  when  invasion's  near, 
Intelligence  must  cost  us  dear ; 
And,  in  this  ticklish  situation, 
A  secret  told  betrays  the  nation : 
But  on  my  honour,  all  the  expense 
(Though  vast)  was  for  the  swarm's  defence." 

Again,  without  examination, 
They  thank'd  his  sage  administration. 


The  year  revolves.     Their  treasure  spent, 
Again  in  secret  service  went : 
His  honour,  too,  again  was  pledged, 
To  satisfy  the  charge  alleged. 

When  thus,  with  panic  shame  possess'd, 
An  auditor,  his  friends  address'd : 

"  What  are  we  ?  ministerial  tools  ? 
We  little  knaves  are  greater  fools. 
At  last  this  secret  is  explored, 
'Tis  our  corruption  thins  the  hoard. 
For  every  grain  we  touch'd,  at  least, 
A  thousand,  his  own  heaps,  increased. 
Then  for  his  kin  and  favourite  spies, 
A  hundred  hardly  could  suffice. 
Thus  for  a  paltry  sneaking  bribe, 
We  cheat  ourselves  and  all  the  tribe ; 
For  all  the  magazine  contains, 
Grows  from  our  annual  toil  and  pains." 

They  vote  th'  account  shall  be  inspected : 
The  cunning  plunderer  is  detected ; 
The  fraud  is  sentenced ;  and  his  hoard, 
As  due,  to  public  use  restored. 




THAT  man  must  daily  wiser  grow, 
Whose  search  is  bent,  himself  to  know. 
Impartially  he  weighs  his  scope, 
And  on  firm  reason  founds  his  hope ; 
He  tries  his  strength  before  the  race, 
And  never  seeks  his  own  disgrace ; 
He  knows  the  compass,  sail,  and  oar, 
Or  never  launches  from  the  shore ; 


THE   BEAR   IN   A   BOAT.  225 

Before  he  builds,  computes  the  cost, 
And  in  no  proud  pursuit  is  lost ; 
He  learns  the  bounds  of  human  sense, 
And  safely  walks  within  the  fence. 
Thus,  conscious  of  his  own  defect, 
Are  pride  and  self-importance  check'd. 

If,  then,  self-knowledge  to  pursue, 
Direct  our  life  in  every  view, 
Of  all  the  fools  that  pride  can  boast, 
A  Coxcomb  claims  distinction  most. 

Coxcombs  are  of  all  ranks  and  kind ; 
They're  not  to  sex  or  age  confined, 
Or  rich  or  poor,  or  great  or  small, 
And  vanity  besets  them  all. 
By  ignorance  is  pride  increased ; 
Those  most  assume  who  know  the  least ; 
Their  own  false  balance  gives  them  weight, 
But  every  other  finds  them  light. 

Not  that  all  Coxcombs'  follies  strike, 
And  draw  our  ridicule  alike. 
To  different  merits  each  pretends. 
This  in  love-vanity  transcends ; 
That  smitten  with  his  face  and  shape, 
By  dress  distinguishes  the  ape ; 
T'other  with  learning  crams  his  shelf, 
Knows  books,  and  all  things  but  himself. 

All  these  are  fools  of  low  condition, 
Compared  with  Coxcombs  of  ambition ; 
For  those,  puff'd  up  with  flattery,  dare 
Assume  a  nation's  various  care. 
They  ne'er  the  grossest  praise  mistrust, 
Their  sycophants  seem  hardly  just ; 


226  GAY'S  FABLES. 

For  these,  in  part  alone,  attest 
The  flattery  their  own  thoughts  suggest. 
In  this  wide  sphere,  a  Coxcomb's  shown 
In  other  realms  besides  his  own : 
The  self-deem'd  Machiavel  at  large 
By  turns  controls  in  every  charge. 
Does  Commerce  suffer  in  her  rights  ? 
'Tis  he  directs  the  naval  flights. 
What  sailor  dares  dispute  his  skill  ? 
He'll  be  an  admiral  when  he  will. 

Now,  meddling  in  the  soldier's  trade, 
Troops  must  be  hir'd,  and  levies  made : 
He  gives  ambassadors  their  cue, 
His  cobbled  treaties  to  renew ; 
And  annual  taxes  must  suffice 
The  current  blunders  to  disguise. 
When  his  crude  schemes  in  air  are  lost, 
And  millions  scarce  defray  the  cost, 
His  arrogance  (nought  undismay'd), 
Trusting  in  self-sufficient  aid, 
On  other  rocks  misguides  the  realm, 
And  thinks  a  pilot  at  the  helm. 
He  ne'er  suspects  his  want  of  skill, 
But  blunders  on  from  ill  to  ill ; 
And  when  he  fails  of  all  intent, 
Blames  only  unforeseen  event. 
Lest  you  mistake  the  application, 
The  Fable  calls  me  to  relation. 

A  Bear  of  shag  and  manners  rough, 
At  climbing  trees  expert  enough — 
For  dext'rously,  and  safe  from  harm, 
Year  after  year  he  robb'd  the  swarm  ; 

THE   BEAR  IN  A   BOAT.  227 

Thus  thriving  on  industrious  toil, 
He  gloried  in  his  pilfer'd  spoil. 

This  trick  so  swell'd  him  with  conceit, 
He  thought  no  enterprise  too  great. 
Alike  in  sciences  and  arts 
He  boasted  universal  parts. 
Pragmatic,  busy,  bustling,  bold, 
His  arrogance  was  uncontroll'd  : 
And  thus  he  made  his  party  good, 
And  grew — dictator  of  the  wood. 

The  beasts  with  admiration  stare, 
And  think  him  a  prodigious  Bear. 
Were  any  common  booty  got, 
'Twas  his,  each  portion  to  allot : 
For  why  ?  he  found  there  might  be  picking, 
E'en  in  the  carving  of  a  chicken. 
Intruding  thus,  he  by  degrees 
Claim'd,  too,  the  butcher's  larger  fees. 
And  now  his  overwhelming  pride 
In  every  province  will  preside  : 
No  task  too  difficult  was  found, 
His  blundering  nose  misleads  the  hound, 
In  stratagem  and  subtle  arts 
He  overrules  the  fox's  parts. 

It  chanced  as,  on  a  certain  day, 
Along  the  bank  he  took  his  way, 
A  boat,  with  rudder,  sail,  and  oar, 
At  anchor  floated  near  the  shore. 
He  stopt,  and  turning  to  his  train, 
Thus  pertly  vents  his  vaunting  strain  : 

"  What  blundering  puppies  are  mankind, 
In  every  science  always  blind  ! 


228  GAY'S  FABLES. 

I  inock  the  pedantry  of  schools  : 
What  are  their  compasses  and  rules  ? 
From  me,  that  helm  shall  conduct  learn, 
And  man,  his  ignorance  discern." 

So  saying,  with  audacious  pride 
He  gains  the  boat,  and  climbs  the  side. 
The  beasts,  astonish'd,  line  the  strand ; 
The  anchor's  weigh'd ;  he  drives  from  land. 
The  slack  sail  shifts  from  side  to  side ; 
The  boat  untrimm'd  admits  the  tide  ; 
Borne  down,  adrift,  at  random  tost, 
His  oar  breaks  short,  the  rudder's  lost. 
The  Bear,  presuming  in  his  skill, 
Is  here,  and  there,  officious  still ; 
Till,  striking  on  the  dangerous  sands, 
Aground  the  shatter'd  vessel  stands. 

To  see  the  bungler  thus  distrest — 
The  very  fishes,  sneer  and  jest ; 
E'en  gudgeons  join  in  ridicule, 
To  mortify  the  meddling  fool. 
The  clamorous  watermen  appear — 
Threats,  curses,  oaths,  insult  his  ear  : 
Seized,  thrash'd,  and  chain'd,  he's  dragg'd  to  land ; 
Derision  shouts  along  the  strand. 




THE  man  of  pure  and  simple  heart 
Through  life  disdains  a  double  part 
He  never  needs  the  screen  of  lies 
His  inward  bosom  to  disguise. 
In  vain  malicious  tongues  assail, 
Let  Envy  snarl,  let  Slander  rail ; 
From  Virtue's  shield  (secure  from  wound) 
Their  blunted,  venom'd  shafts  rebound. 


230  GAY'S  FABLES. 

So  shines  his  light  before  mankind, 
His  actions  prove  his  honest  mind. 
If  in  his  country's  cause  he  rise, 
Debating  senates  to  advise, 
Unbribed,  unawed,  he  dares  impart 
The  honest  dictates  of  his  heart. 
No  ministerial  frown  he  fears, 
But  in  his  virtue  perseveres. 

But  would  you  play  the  politician, 
Whose  heart's  averse  to  intuition, 
Your  lips  at  all  times,  nay,  your  reason, 
Must  be  controll'd  by  place  and  season. 
What  statesman  could  his  power  support 
Were  lying  tongues  forbid  the  court  ? 
Did  princely  ears  to  truth  attend, 
What  minister  could  gain  his  end  ? 
How  could  he  raise  his  tools  to  place, 
And  how  his  honest  foes,  disgrace  ? 

That  politician  tops  his  part, 
Who  readily  can  lie  with  art : 
The  man's  proficient  in  his  trade ; 
His  power  is  strong,  his  fortune's  made. 
By  that,  the  interest  of  the  throne 
Is  made  subservient  to  his  own : 
By  that,  have  kings  of  old,  deluded, 
All  their  own  friends  for  his,  excluded : 
By  that,  his  selfish  schemes  pursuing, 
He  thrives  upon  the  public  ruin. 

Antiochus,  with  hardy  pace, 
Provoked  the  dangers  of  the  chase 
And,  lost  from  all  his  menial  train, 
Traversed  the  wood,  and  path  If  ss  plain. 

THE   SQUIRE  AND   THE   CUR.  231 

A  cottage  lodged  the  royal  guest, 
The  Parthian  clown  brought  forth  his  best ; 
The  King,  unknown,  his  feast  enjoy'd, 
And  various  chat,  the  hours  employ'd. 
From  wine  what  sudden  friendship  springs ! 
Frankly  they  talk'd  of  courts  and  kings. 

"  We  country-folks,"  the  Clown  replies, 
"  Could  ope  our  gracious  monarch's  eyes. 
The  King,  (as  all  our  neighbours  say) 
Might  he  (God  bless  him !)  have  his  way, 
Is  sound  at  heart,  and  means  our  good, 
And  he  would  do  it,  if  he  could. 
If  truth  in  courts  were  not  forbid, 
Nor  kings  nor  subjects,  would  be  rid. 
Were  he  in  power  we  need  not  doubt  him 
But  that  transferr'd  to  those  about  him, 
On  them  he  throws  the  regal  cares ; 
And  what  mind  they  ?     Their  own  affairs. 
If  such  rapacious  hands  he  trust, 
The  best  of  men  may  seem  unjust. 
From  kings  to  cobblers  'tis  the  same ; 
Bad  servants  wound  their  masters'  fame, 
In  this  our  neighbours  all  agree  : 
Would  the  king  knew  as  much  as  we  ! " 
Here  he  stopt  short.     Eepose  they  sought ; 
The  Peasant  slept,  the  Monarch  thought. 

The  courtiers  learn'd,  at  early  dawn, 
Where  their  lost  sovereign  was  withdrawn. 
The  guards'  approach  our  host  alarms ; 
With  gaudy  coats  the  cottage  swarms ; 
The  crown  and  purple  robes  they  bring, 
And  prostrate  fall  before  the  King. 

232  GAY'S  FABI.KS. 

The  Clown  was  call'd ;  the  royal  guest 
By  due  reward  his  thanks  exprest. 
The  King  then,  turning  to  the  crowd, 
Who  fawningly  before  him  bow'd, 
Thus  spoke :  "  Since,  bent  on  private  gain, 
Your  counsels  first  misled  my  reign, 
Taught  and  inform'd  by  you  alone, 
No  truth  the  royal  ear  hath  known, 
Till  here  conversing — hence,  ye  crew  ! 
For  now  I  know  myself  and  you." 

Whene'er  the  royal  ear's  engrost, 
State-lies  but  little  genius  cost ; 
The  favourite  then  securely  robs, 
And  gleans  a  nation  by  his  jobs. 
Franker  and  bolder  grown  in  ill, 
He  daily  poisons  dares  instil ; 
And,  as  his  present  views  suggest, 
Inflames  or  soothes  the  royal  breast : 
Thus  wicked  ministers  oppress, 
When  oft  the  monarch  means  redress. 

Would  kings  their  private  subjects  hear. 
A  minister  must  talk  with  fear ; 
If  honesty  opposed  his  views, 
He  dared  not  innocence  accuse ; 
'T would  keep  him  in  such  narrow  bound, 
He  could  not  right  and  wrong  confound. 
Happy  were  kings,  could  they  disclose 
Their  real  friends  and  real  foes! 
Were  both  themselves  and  subjects  known, 
A  monarch's  will  might  be  his  own  : 
Had  he  the  use  of  ears  and  eyes, 
Knaves  would  no  more  be  counted  wise. 


But  then  a  minister  might  lose 
(Hard  case !)  his  own  ambitious  views. 
When  such  as  these  have  vex'd  a  state, 
Pursued  by  universal  hate, 
Their  false  support  at  once  hath  fail'd, 
And  persevering  truth  prevail'd. 
Exposed,  their  train  of  fraud  is  seen — 
Truth  will  at  last  remove  the  screen. 

A  Country  Squire,  by  whim  directed, 
The  true  stanch  dogs  of  chase  neglected ; 
Beneath  his  board  no  hound  was  fed, 
His  hand  ne'er  stroked  the  spaniel's  head. 
A  snappish  Cur,  alone  carest, 
By  lies  had  banish'd  all  the  rest  : 
Yap  had  his  ear,  and  defamation 
Gave  him  full  scope  of  conversation. 
His  sycophants  must  be  preferr'd, 
Room  must  be  made  for  all  his  herd : 
Wherefore,  to  bring  his  schemes  about, 
Old  faithful  servants  all  must  out. 

The  Cur  on  every  creature  flew, 
(As  other  great  men's  puppies  do,) 
Unless  due  court  to  him  were  shown, 
And  both  their  face  and  business  known, 
No  honest  tongue  an  audience  found — 
He  worried  all  the  tenants  round. 
For  why  ?  he  lived  in  constant  fear, 
Lest  truth  by  chance  should  interfere. 
If  any  stranger  dared  intrude, 
The  noisy  Cur  his  heels  pursued ; 
Now  fierce  with  rage,  now  struck  with  dread 
At  once  he  snarled,  bit,  and  fled. 

234  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Aloof  he  bays,  with  bristling  hair, 
And  thus  in  secret  growls  his  fear : 
"  Who  knows  but  Truth,  in  this  disguise, 
May  frustrate  my  best-guarded  lies  ? 
Should  she  (thus  mask'd)  admittance  find, 
That  very  hour,  my  ruin's  sign'd." 

Now  in  his  howl's  continued  sound, 
Their  words  were  lost,  their  voice  was  drown'd. 
Ever  in  awe  of  honest  tongues, 
Thus  every  day  he  strain'd  his  lungs. 

It  happen'd,  in  ill-omen'd  hour, 
That  Yap,  unmindful  of  his  power, 
Forsook  his  post,  to  love  inclin'd, 
A  favourite  bitch  was  in  the  wind. 
By  her  seduced,  in  amorous  play, 
They  frisk'd  the  joyous  hours  away : 
Thus  by  untimely  love  pursuing, 
Like  Antony  he  sought  his  ruin. 

For  now  the  Squire,  unvex'd  with  noise, 
An  honest  neighbour's  chat,  enjoys. 
"  Be  free,"  says  he,  "  your  mind  impart ; 
I  love  a  friendly  open  heart. 
Methinks  my  tenants  shun  my  gate ; 
Why  such  a  stranger  grown  of  late  ? 
Pray  tell  me  what  offence  they  find — 
'Tis  plain  they're  not  so  well  inclined." 

"  Turn  off  your  Cur,"  the  Farmer  cries, 
"  Who  feeds  your  ear  with  daily  lies. 
His  snarling  insolence  offends, — 
'Tis  he  that  keeps  you  from  your  friends. 
Were  but  that  saucy  puppy  checkt, 
You'd  find  again  the  same  respect. 



Hear  only  him,  he'll  swear  it  too, 
That  all  our  hatred  is  to  you : 
But  learn  from  us  your  true  estate — 
'Tis  that  curst  Cur  alone,  we  hate." 

The  Squire  heard  Truth.  Now  Yap  rushed  in, 
The  wide  hall  echoes  with  his  din, 
Yet  Truth  prevail'd ;  and,  with  disgrace 
The  dog  was  cudgell'd  out  of  place. 




HAVE  you  a  friend  (look  round  and  spy) 
So  fond,  so  prepossess'd  as  I  ? 
Your  faults,  so  obvious  to  mankind, 
My  partial  eyes  could  never  find. 
When,  by  the  breath  of  Fortune  blown, 
Your  airy  castles  were  o'erthrown, 
Have  I  been  ever  prone  to  blame, 
Or  mortified  your  hours  with  shame  ? 
Was  I  e'er  known  to  damp  your  spirit, 
Or  twit  you  with  the  want  of  merit  ? 


Tis  not  so  strange  that  Fortune's  frown 
Still  perseveres  to  keep  you  down  : 
Look  round,  and  see  what  others  do. 
Would  you  be  rich  and  honest  too  ? 
Have  you  (like  those  she  raised  to  place) 
Been  opportunely,  mean  and  base  ? 
Have  you  (as  times  required),  resign'd 
Truth,  honour,  virtue,  peace  of  mind  ? 
If  these  are  scruples,  give  her  o'er ; 
Write,  practise  morals,  and  be  poor. 

The  gifts  of  Fortune  truly  rate  ; 
Then,  tell  me  what  would  mend  your  state. 
If  happiness  on  wealth  were  built, 
Eich  rogues  might  comfort  find,  in  guilt. 
As  grows  the  miser's  hoarded  store, 
His  fears,  his  wants,  increase  the  more. 

Think,  GAY,  (what  ne'er  may  be  the  case,) 
Should  Fortune  take  you  into  grace, 
Would  that  your  happiness  augment  ? 
What  can  she  give  beyond  content  ? 

Suppose  yourself  a  wealthy  heir, 
With  a  vast  annual  income  clear ! 
In  all  the  affluence  you  possess, 
You  might  not  feel  one  care  the  less. 
Might  you  not,  then,  like  others,  find 
With  change  of  fortune,  change  of  mind  ? 
Perhaps,  profuse  beyond  all  rule 
You  might  start  out  a  glaring  fool ; 
Your  luxury  might  break  all  bounds ; 
Plate,  table,  horses,  stewards,  hounds, 
Might  swell  your  debts ;  then,  lust  of  play 
No  regal  income  can  defray. 

238  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Sunk  is  all  credit,  writs  assail, 
And  doom  your  future  life  to  jail. 

Or  were  you  dignified  with  power, 
Would  that  avert  one  pensive  hour  ? 
You  might  give  avarice  its  swing, 
Defraud  a  nation,  blind  a  king ; 
Then  from  the  hirelings  in  your  cause, 
Though  daily  fed  with  false  applause, 
Could  it  a  real  joy  impart  ? — 
Great  guilt  knew  never  joy  at  heart. 

Is  happiness  your  point  in  view  ? 
(I  mean  th'  intrinsic  and  the  true). 
She  nor  in  camps  nor  courts,  resides, 
Nor  in  the  humble  cottage,  hides ; 
Yet  found  alike  in  every  sphere — 
Who  finds  content,  will  find  her  there.1 

O'erspent  with  toil,  beneath  the  shade, 
A  Peasant  rested  on  his  spade : 

"  Good  gods  ! "  he  cries,  "  'tis  hard  to  bear 
This  load  of  life  from  year  to  year ! 
Soon  as  the  morning  streaks  the  skies 
Industrious  Labour  bids  me  rise ; 

i  It  has  been  justly  remarked,  that  a  writer  often  best  describes  the 
excellence  of  that  virtue  in  which  he  is  most  deficient ;  and  can  most 
feelingly  paint  the  miseries  of  that  state  which  he  himself  has  expe- 

Thus  Steele,  who  suffered  so  much  from  want  of  economy,  wrote 
admirably  upon  economy ;  and  Gay,  whose  sanguine  disposition  was  con- 
tinually forming  hopes  which  were  continually  disappointed,  who  was 
ever  sighing  for  what  he  had  not,  and  not  enjoying  what  he  had,  has,  in 
many  parts  of  his  Fables,  but  particularly  in  this  beautiful  introduction, 
displayed  in  just  colours,  the  blessedness  of  a  contented  mind. 

This  Fable  shows,  from  the  example  of  the  discontented  Countryman, 
who  found  by  experience  that  his  own  situation  was  preferable  to  those 
which  he  envied,  what  a  false  estimate  they  make  of  life,  who  are  silly 
enough,  as  Gay  says  in  another  place : — 

"  by  outward  show. 

To  judge  of  happiness  below.  '—FABLE  xr,:x. 


With  sweat  I  earn  my  homely  fare, 
And  every  day  renews  my  .care." 

Jove  heard  the  discontented  strain, 
And  thus  rebuked  the  murmuring  swain : 

"  Speak  out  your  wants,  then,  honest  friend: 
Unjust  complaints,  the  gods  offend. 
If  you  repine  at  partial  Fate, 
Instruct  me  what  could  mend  your  state. 
Mankind  in  every  station  see — 
What  wish  you  ?  tell  me  what  you'd  be." 

So  said,  upborne  upon  a  cloud, 
The  Clown  survey'd  the  anxious  crowd. 

"  Yon  face  of  Care,"  says  Jove,  "  behold, 
His  bulky  bags  are  fill'd  with  gold : 
See  with  what  joy  he  counts  it  o'er ! 
That  sum  to-day  hath  swell'd  his  store." 
"  Were  I  that  man,"  the  Peasant  cried, 
"What  blessing  could  I  ask  beside?" 

"  Hold,"  says  the  god,  "  first  learn  to  know 
True  happiness  from  outward  show. 
This  optic  glass  of  intuition — 
Here,  take  it ;  view  his  true  condition." 

He  look'd,  and  saw  the  miser's  breast 
A  troubled  ocean,  ne'er  at  rest ; 
Want  ever  stares  him  in  the  face, 
And  fear  anticipates  disgrace. 
With  conscious  guilt  he  saw  him  start, 
Extortion  gnaws  his  throbbing  heart, 
And  never,  or  in  thought  or  dream, 
His  breast  admits  one  happy  gleam. 

"  May  Jove,"  he  cries,  "  reject  my  pray'r, 
And  guard  my  life  from  guilt  and  care ! 

240  GAY'S  FABLES. 

My  soul  abhors  that  wretch's  fate — 

Oh  keep  me  in  my  humble  state ! 

But  see,  amidst  a  gaudy  crowd, 

Yon  minister  so  gay  and  proud ; 

On  him  what  happiness  attends, 

Who  thus  rewards  his  grateful  friends ! " 

"  First  take  the  glass,"  the  god  replies ; 

"  Man  views  the  world  with  partial  eyes." 

"  Good  gods  ! "  exclaims  the  startled  wight, 
"  Defend  me  from  this  hideous  sight : 
Corruption,  with  corrosive  smart, 
Lies  cankering  on  his  guilty  heart. 
I  see  him  with  polluted  hand 
Spread  the  contagion  o'er  the  land. 
Now  Avarice  with  insatiate  jaws, 
Now  Eapine  with  her  harpy  claws, 
His  bosom  tears ;  his  conscious  breast 
Groans,  with  a  load  of  crimes  opprest. 
I  see  him,  mad  and  drunk  with  power, 
Stand  tottering  on  Ambition's  tower. 
Sometimes,  in  speeches  vain  and  proud, 
His  boasts  insult  the  nether  crowd ; 
Now,  seized  with  giddiness  and  fear, 
He  trembles  lest  his  fall  is  near. 

Was  ever  wretch  like  this  ? "  he  cries, 
"  Such  misery  in  such  disguise ! 
The  change,  0  Jove !  I  disavow — 
Still  be  my  lot  the  spade  and  plough." 

He  next,  confirm'd  by  speculation, 
Rejects  the  lawyer's  occupation ; 
For  he  the  statesman  seem'd  in  part, 
And  bore  similitude  of  heart. 


Nor  did  the  soldier's  trade  inflame 
His  hopes,  with  thirst  of  spoil  and  fame : 
The  miseries  of  war  he  mourn'd, 
Whole  nations  into  deserts  turn'd. 

By  these  have  laws  and  rights  been  braved ; 
By  these  was  free-born  man  enslaved  : 
When  battles  and  invasion  cease, 
Why  swarm  they  in  the  lands  of  peace  ? 
"  Such  change,"  says  he,  "  may  I  decline — 
The  scythe,  and  civil  arms,  be  mine ! " 

Thus,  weighing  life  in  each  condition, 
The  Clown  withdrew  his  rash  petition. 

When  thus  the  god :  "  How  mortals  err ! 
If  you  true  happiness  prefer ; 
'Tis  to  no  rank  of  life  confined, 
But  dwells  in  every  honest  mind. 
Be  justice,  then,  your  sole  pursuit — 
Plant  virtue,  and  content's  the  fruit." 
So,  Jove,  to  gratify  the  Clown, 
Where  first  he  found  him,  set  him  down. 





HAIL,  happy  land !  whose  fertile  grounds 

The  liquid  fence  of  Neptune  bounds  ; l 

By  beauteous  nature  set  apart, 

The  seat  of  Industry  and  Art. 

0  Britain !  chosen  port  of  trade, 

May  luxury  ne'er  thy  sons  invade  ! 

May  never  minister  (intent 

His  private  treasures  to  augment) 

1  The  liquid  fence  of  Neptune  bnunds,  may  be  compared  with  Waller's 
Sea-girt  Britain  "  and  Rowe's  "  The  noblest  of  the  ocean's  isles." 


THE  MAN,  THE  CAT,  THE  DOG,  AND  THE  FLY.   243 

Corrupt  thy  state  !     If  jealous  foes 
Thy  rights  of  commerce  dare  oppose, 
Shall  not  thy  fleets  their  rapine  awe  ? 
Who  is't  prescribes  the  ocean  law  ? 

Whenever  neighbouring  states  contend, 
'Tis  thine  to  be  the  general  friend, 
What  is't  who  rules  in  other  lands  ? 
On  trade  alone  thy  glory  stands  : 
That  benefit  is  unconfined, 
Diffusing  good  among  mankind : 
That  first  gave  lustre  to  thy  reigns, 
And  scatter'd  plenty  o'er  thy  plains : 
'Tis  that  alone  thy  wealth  supplies, 
And  draws  all  Europe's  envious  eyes. 
Be  commerce,  then,  thy  sole  design — 
Keep  that,  and  all  the  world  is  thine. 

When  naval  traffic  ploughs  the  main, 
Who  shares  not  in  the  merchant's  gain  ? 
'Tis  that  supports  the  regal  state, 
And  makes  the  farmer's  heart  elate : 
The  numerous  flocks  that  clothe  the  land 
Can  scarce  supply  the  loom's  demand ; 
Prolific  culture  glads  the  fields, 
And  the  bare  heath,  a  harvest  yields. 

Nature  expects  mankind  should  share l 
The  duties  of  the  public  care. 
Who's  born  for  sloth  ?     To  some  we  find 
The  ploughshare's  annual  toil  assign'd ; 

i  Lines  33  to  64.  These  beautiful  lines  inculcate  the  necessity  of  in- 
dustry, and  the  reciprocal  advantages  drawn  from  the  inequality  of 
conditions,  according  to  the  observation  in  the  forty-third  Fable: 

Since  ev'ry  creature  was  decreed, 
To  aid  each  other's  mental  need." 

16 — 2 

244  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Some  at  the  sounding  anvil  glow  ; 
Some  the  swift-sliding  shuttle  throw ; 
Some  studious  of  the  wind  and  tide, 
From  pole  to  pole,  our  commerce  guide ; 
Some  (taught  by  industry)  impart 
With  hands  and  feet,  the  works  of  art ; 
While  some,  of  genius  more  refined, 
With  head  and  tongue,  assist  mankind : 
Each  aiming  at  one  common  end, 
Proves  to  the  whole,  a  needful  friend. 
Thus,  born  each  other's  useful  aid, 
By  turns,  are  obligations  paid. 

The  monarch,  when  his  table's  spread; 
Is  to  the  clown,  obliged  for  bread ; 
And  when  in  all  his  glory,  drest, 
Owes  to  the  loom,  his  royal  vest. 
Do  not  the  mason's  toil  and  care, 
Protect  him  from  th'  inclement  air  ? 
Does  not  the  cutler's  art  supply 
The  ornament,  that  guards  his  thigh  ? 
All  these,  in  duty  to  the  throne, 
Their  common  obligations,  own. 
'Tis  he  (his  own  and  people's  cause) 
Protects  their  properties  and  laws  : 
Thus  they  their  honest  toil  employ, 
And  with  content,  the  fruits  enjoy. 
In  every  rank,  or  great  or  small, 
'Tis  industry  supports  us  all. 

The  animals,  by  want  oppress'd, 
To  man  their  services  address'd ; 
While  each  pursued  their  selfish  good, 
They  hunger'd  for  precarious  food : 

THE  MAN,  THE  CAT,  THE  DOG,  AND  THE  FLY.   245 

Their  hours  with  anxious  cares  were  vext,         . 
One  day  they  fed,  and  starved  the  next. 
.They  saw  that  plenty,  sure  and  rife, 
Was  found  alone  in  social  life ; 
That  mutual  industry  profess'd, 
The  Carious  wants  of  man,  redress'd. 

The  Cat,  half-famished,  lean,  and  weak, 
Demands  the  privilege  to  speak. 

"  Well,  Puss,"  says  Man,  "  and  what  can  you 
To  benefit  the  public,  do  ? " 

The  Cat  replies  :  "  These  teeth,  these  claws, 
With  vigilance  shall  serve  the  cause. 
The  mouse,  destroy'd  by  my  pursuit, 
No  longer  shall  your  feasts  pollute ; 
Nor  rats,  from  nightly  ambuscade, 
With  wasteful  teeth,  your  stores  invade." 

"  I  grant/'  says  Man,  "  to  general  use 
Your  parts  and  talents  may  conduce ; 
For  rats  and  mice  purloin  our  grain, 
And  threshers  whirl  the  nail,  in  vain : 
Thus  shall  the  Cat,  a  foe  to  spoil, 
Protect  the  farmer's  honest  toil." 

Then  turning  to  the  Dog,  he  cried, 
"  Well,  Sir,  be  next  your  merits  tried." 
"  Sir,"  says  the  Dog,  "  by  self -applause 
We  seem  to  own  a  friendless  cause. 
Ask  those  who  know  me,  if  distrust 
E'er  found  me  treacherous  or  unjust  ? 
Did  I  e'er  faith  or  friendship  break  ? 
Ask  all  those  creatures,  let  them  speak. 
My  vigilance  and  trusty  zeal 
Perhaps  might  serve  the  public  weal. 

246  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Might  not  your  flocks  in  safety  feed, 

Were  I  to  guard  the  fleecy  breed  ? 

Did  I  the  nightly  watches  keep, 

Could  thieves  invade  you,  while  you  sleep  ? " 

The  Man  replies ;  "  'Tis  just  and  right, 
Rewards,  such  service,  should  requite. 
So  rare,  in  property,  we  find 
Trust  uncorrupt,  among  mankind, 
That,  taken  in  a  public  view, 
The  first  distinction  is  your  due. 
Such  merits  all  reward  transcend : 
Be  then  my  comrade  and  my  friend." 

Addressing  now  the  Fly :  "  From  you 
What  public  service  can  accrue  ?  " 
"  From  me !  "  the  fluttering  insect  said, 
"  I  thought  you  knew  me  better  bred. 
Sir,  I'm  a  gentleman.     Is't  fit 
That  I  to  industry  submit  ? 
Let  mean  mechanics,  to  be  fed, 
By  business,  earn  ignoble  bread : 
Lost  in  excess  of  daily  joys, 
No  thought,  no  care,  my  life  annoys. 
At  noon  (the  lady's  matin  hour), 
I  sip  the  tea's  delicious  flower ; 
On  cates  luxuriously  I  dine, 
And  drink  the  fragrance  of  the  vine. 
Studious  of  elegance  and  ease, 
Myself  alone,  I  seek  to  please." 

The  Man,  his  pert  conceit,  derides, 
And  thus  the  useless  coxcomb,  chides  : 

"  Hence  from  that  peach,  that  downy  seat — 
No  idle  fool  deserves  to  eat. 

THE  MAN,  THE  CAT,  THE  DOG,  AND  THE  FLY.   247 

Could  you  have  sapp'd  the  blushing  rind, 
And  on  that  pulp  ambrosial,  dined, 
Had  not  some  hand,  with  skill  and  toil 
To  raise  the  tree,  prepared  the  soil  ? 
Consider,  sot,  what  would  ensue, 
Were  all  such  worthless  things,  as  you. 
You'd  soon  be  forced  (by  hunger  stung), 
To  make  your  dirty  meals  on  dung, 
On  which  such  despicable  need, 
CJnpitied,  is  reduced  to  feed. 
Besides,  vain,  selfish,  insect,  learn 
(If  you  can  right  and  wrong  discern), 
That  he  who,  with  industrious  zeal, 
Contributes  to  the  public  weal, 
By  adding  to  the  common  good. 
His  own,  hath  rightly  understood." 

So  saying,  with  a  sudden  blow, 
He  laid  the  noxious  vagrant  low, 
Crush'd  in  his  luxury  and  pride, 
The  spunger  on  the  public,  died. 




I  GRANT  corruption  sways  mankind ; 
That  interest,  too,  perverts  the  mind ; 
That  bribes  have  blinded  common  sense, 
Foil'd  reason,  truth,  and  eloquence  ; 
I  grant  you,  too,  our  present  crimes 
Can  equal  those  of  former  times. 
Against  plain  facts  shall  I  engage, 
To  vindicate  our  righteous  age  ? 



I  know  that  in  a  modern  fist, 
Bribes,  in  full  energy,  subsist. 
Since  then  these  arguments  prevail, 
And  itching  palms  are  still  so  frail, 
Hence  politicians,  you  suggest, 
Should  drive  the  nail  that  goes  the  best ; 
That  it  shows  parts  and  penetration, 
To  ply  men  with  the  right  temptation. 

To  this  I  humbly  must  dissent, 
Premising,  no  reflection's  meant. 

Does  justice,  or  the  client's  sense, 
Teach  lawyers,  either  side's  defence  ? 
The  fee  gives  eloquence  its  spirit, 
That  only  is  the  client's  merit. 
Does  art,  wit,  wisdom,  or  address, 
Obtain  the  prostitute's  caress  ? 
The  guinea  (as  in  other  trades), 
From  every  hand,  alike  persuades. 
"  Man,"  Scripture  says,  "  is  prone  to  evil ; " 
But  does  that  vindicate  the  devil  ? 
Besides,  the  more  mankind  are  prone, 
The  less  the  devil's  parts  are  shown. 
Corruption's  not  of  modern  date ; 
It  hath  been  tried  in  every  state. 
Great  knaves  of  old  their  power  have  fenced, 
By  places,  pensions,  bribes,  dispensed ; 
By  these  they  gloried  in  success, 
And  impudently  dared  oppress ; 
By  these  despotic'ly  they  sway'd, 
And  slaves  extoll'd  the  hand  that  paid ; 
Nor  parts  nor  genius  were  employ'd — 
By  these  alone  were  realms  destroy'd. 

250  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Now  see  these  wretches  in  disgrace, 
Stript  of  their  treasures,  power,  and  place  ; 
View  'em  abandon'd  and  forlorn, 
Exposed  to  just  reproach  and  scorn. 
What  now  is  all  your  pride,  your  boast  ? 
Where  are  your  slaves,  your  nattering  host  ? 
What  tongues  now  feed  you  with  applause  ? 
Where  are  the  champions  of  your  cause  ? 
Now  e'en  that  very  fawning  train, 
Which  shared  the  gleanings  of  your  gain, 
Press  foremost  who  shall  first  accuse 
Your  selfish  jobs,  your  paltry  views, 
Your  narrow  schemes,  your  breach  of  trust, 
And  want  of  talents  to  be  just. 

What  fools  were  these  amidst  their  power : 
How  thoughtless  of  their  adverse  hour ! 
What  friends  were  made  ?    A  hireling  herd, 
For  temporary  votes  preferr'd. 
Was  it  these  sycophants  to  get, 
Your  bounty  swell'd  a  nation's  debt  ? 
You're  bit,  for  these,  like  Swiss,  attend — 
No  longer  pay,  no  longer  friend. 

The  lion  is  (beyond  dispute) 
Allow'd  the  most  majestic  brute ; 
His  valour  and  his  generous  mind 
Prove  him  superior  of  his  kind : 
Yet  to  jackals  (as  'tis  averr'd) 
Some  lions  have  their  power  transferr'd, 
As  if  the  parts  of  pimps  and  spies 
To  govern  forests  could  suffice. 

Once,  studious  of  his  private  good, 
A.  proud  Jackal  oppress'd  the  wood ; 


To  cram  his  own  insatiate  jaws, 
Invaded  property  and  laws. 
The  forest  groans  with  discontent, 
Fresh  wrongs  the  general  hate,  foment. 
The  spreading  murmurs  reach' d  his  ear ; 
His  secret  hours  were  vex'd  with  fear. 
Night  after  night  he  weighs  the  case, 
And  feels  the  terrors  of  disgrace. 

"  By  friends,"  says  he,  "  I'll  guard  my  seat, 
By  those,  malicious  tongues  defeat ; 
I'll  strengthen  power  by  new  allies, 
And  all  my  clamorous  foes  despise." 

To  make  the  generous  beasts  his  friends, 
He  cringes,  fawns,  and  condescends ; 
But  those  repulsed  his  abject  court, 
And  scorn'd  oppression  to  support. 
Friends  must  be  had,  he  can't  subsist — 
Bribes  shall  new  proselytes  enlist. 
But  these,  nought  weigh'd  in  honest  paws ; 
For  bribes,  confess  a  wicked  cause : 
Yet  think  not  every  paw  withstands 
What  hath  prevail'd  in  human  hands. 

A  tempting  turnip's  silver  skin 
Drew  a  base  Hog  through  thick  and  thin : 
Bought  with  a  Stag's  delicious  haunch, 
The  mercenary  Wolf  was  staunch : 
The  convert  Fox  grew  warm  and  hearty, 
A  pullet  gain'd  him  to  the  party  : 
The  golden  pippin  in  his  fist, 
A  chattering  Monkey  join'd  the  list. 

But  soon,  exposed  to  public  hate, 
The  favourite's  fall  redress'd  the  state. 

252  GAY'S  FABLES. 

The  Leopard,  vindicating  right, 

Had  brought  his  secret  frauds  to  light. 

As  rats,  before  the  mansion  falls, 

Desert  late  hospitable  walls, 

In  shoals  the  servile  creatures  run, 

To  bow  before  the  rising  sun. 

The  Hog  with  warmth  express'd  his  zeal, 
And  was  for  hanging  those  that  steal ; 
But  hoped,  though  low,  the  public  hoard 
Might  half  a  turnip  still  afford. 
Since  saving  measures  were  profest, 
A  lamb's  head  was  the  Wolfs  request. 
The  Fox  submitted,  if  to  touch 
A  gosling  would  be  deem'd  too  much  ? 
The  Monkey  thought  his  grin  and  chatter, 
Might  ask  a  nut,  or  some  such  matter. 

"  Ye  hirelings,  hence ! "  the  Leopard  cries, 
"  Your  venal  conscience  I  despise : 
He  who  the  public  good  intends, 
By  bribes  needs  never  purchase  friends. 
Who  acts  this  just,  this  open  part, 
Is  propt  by  every  honest  heart. 
Corruption  now  too  late  has  show'd 
That  bribes  are  always  ill-bestowed : 
By  you,  your  bubbled  master's  taught, 
Time-serving  tools,  not  friends,  are  bought." 




THOUGH  courts  the  practice  disallow, 
A  friend  at  all  times  111  avow. 
In  politics  I  know  'tis  wrong — 
A  friendship  may  be  kept  too  long ; 
And  what  they  call  the  prudent  part, 
Is  to  wear  interest  next  the  heart : 
As  the  times  take  a  different  face, 
Old  friendships  should  to  new,  give  place. 

254  GAY'S  FABLES. 

I  know,  too,  you  have  many  foes ; 
That  owning  you,  is  sharing  those ; 
That  every  knave  in  every  station, 
Of  high  and  low  denomination, 
For  what  you  speak,  and  what  you  write, 
Dread  you  at  once,  and  bear  you  spite. 
Such  freedoms  in  your  works  are  shown, 
They  can't  enjoy  what's  not  their  own, 
All  dunces,  too,  in  church  and  state, 
In  frothy  nonsense  show  their  hate ; 
With  all  the  petty  scribbling  crew, 
(And  those  pert  sots  are  not  a  few,) 
'Gainst  you  and  Pope,  their  envy  spurt : 
The  booksellers  alone  are  hurt. 

Good  gods  !  by  what  a  powerful  race 
(For  blockheads  may  have  power  and  place) 
Are  scandals  raised,  and  libels  writ, 
To  prove  your  honesty  and  wit ! 
Think  with  yourself :  those  worthy  men, 
You  know,  have  suffer'd  by  your  pen : 
From  them  you've  nothing  but  your  due. 
From  hence,  'tis  plain,  your  friends  are  few, 
Except  myself,  I  know  of  none, 
Besides  the  wise  and  good  alone. 
To  set  the  case  in  fairer  light, 
My  Fable  shall  the  rest  recite, 
Which  (though  unlike  our  present  state) 
I,  for  the  moral's  sake,  relate. 

A  Bee  of  cunning,  not  of  parts, 
Luxurious,  negligent  of  arts, 
Rapacious,  arrogant,  and  vain, 
Greedy  of  power,  but  more  of  gain, — 


Corruption  sow'd  throughout  the  hive : 
By  petty  rogues,  the  great  ones  thrive. 

As  power  and  wealth  his  views  supplied, 
'Twas  seen  in  overbearing  pride. 
With  him,  loud  impudence  had  merit ; 
The  Bee  of  conscience  wanted  spirit ; 
And  those  who  follow'd  honour's  rules, 
Were  laugh'd  to  scorn,  for  squeamish  fools. 
Wealth  claim'd  distinction,  favour,  grace, 
And  poverty  alone,  was  base. 
He  treated  industry  with  slight, 
Unless  he  found  his  profit  by't. 
Eights,  laws,  and  liberties,  gave  way, 
To  bring  his  selfish  schemes  in  play. 
The  swarm  forgot  the  common  toil, 
To  share  the  gleanings  of  his  spoil. 

"  While  vulgar  souls,  of  narrow  parts, 
Waste  life  in  low  mechanic  arts ; 
Let  us,"  says  he,  "  to  genius  born, 
The  drudgery  of  our  fathers  scorn. 
The  Wasp  and  Drone,  you  must  agree, 
Live  with  more  elegance,  than  we. 
Like  gentlemen,  they  sport  and  play ; 
No  business  interrupts  the  day : 
Their  hours  to  luxury,  they  give, 
And  nobly  on  their  neighbours  live." 
A  stubborn  Bee,  among  the  swarm, 
With  honest  indignation  warm, 
Thus  from  his  cell  with  zeal  replied : 

"  I  slight  thy  frowns,  and  hate  thy  pride. 
The  laws  our  native  rights  protect ; 
Offending  thec,  I  those  respect. 

256  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Shall  luxury  corrupt  the  hive, 

And  none  against  the  torrent  strive  ? 

Exert  the  honour  of  your  race ; 

He  builds  his  rise  on  your  disgrace. 

Tis  industry  our  state  maintains  ; 

'Twas  honest  toil  and  honest  gains 

That  raised  our  sires  to  power  and  fame — 

Be  virtuous ;  save  yourselves  from  shame. 

Know  that  in  selfish  ends  pursuing, 

You  scramble  for  the  public  ruin." 

He  spoke ;  and,  from  his  cell  dismiss'd, 
Was  insolently  scoff  d  and  hiss'd : 
With  him  a  friend  or  two  resign'd, 
Disdaining  the  degenerate  kind. 

"  These  Drones,"  says  he,  "  these  insects  vile, 
(I  treat  'em  in  their  proper  style,) 
May,  for  a  time,  oppress  the  state : 
They  own  our  virtue  by  their  hate. 
By  that,  our  merits  they  reveal, 
And  recommend  our  public  zeal ; 
Disgraced  by  this  corrupted  crew, 
We're  honour'd  by  the  virtuous  few." l 

i  A  galaxy  of  glorious  intellect,  not  only  surrounded  Swift  with  the 
radiance  of  talent,  but  warmed  him  with  the  glow  of  friendship.  Pope, 
Gay,  Arbuthnot,  Sheridan,  appear  to  have  loved  him  in  spite  of  his  morose- 
ness,  and  almost  for  his  very  weaknesses,  whilst  a  whole  country  honoured 
"  The  Drapier  "  for  his  inflexible  courage,  and  exposure  of  court  injustice. 
Swift's  letters  are  redolent  of  the  very  essence  of  friendship.— OWEN. 

This  Fable  is  dedicated  to  Swift,  who  was  Dean  of  St.  Patrick's.  Swift 
was  greatly  attached  to  Gay,  and  strongly  recommended  him  to  Oxford 
and  Bolingbroke,  during  their  administration.  Gay  never  forgot  his 
obligations  to  those  who  had  served  him,  and  has,  in  many  parts  of  his 
works,  as  well  as  in  this  Fable,  paid  a  tribute  of  gratitude  to  Swift. 




BEGIN,  my  Lord,  in  early  youth, 
To  suffer,  nay,  encourage  truth ; 
And  blame  me  not  for  disrespect, 
If  I  the  flatterer's  style  reject ; 
With  that,  by  menial  tongues  supplied, 
You're  daily  cocker'd  up  in  pride. 

The  tree's  distinguish'd  by  the  fruit ; 
Be  virtue,  then,  your  first  pursuit. 

257  17 

258  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Set  your  great  ancestors  in  view, 
Like  them  deserve  the  title  too ; 
Like  them,  ignoble  actions  scorn ; 
Let  virtue  prove  you  greatly  born. 

Though  with  less  plate  their  sideboard  shone, 
Their  conscience  always  was  their  own ; 
They  ne'er  at  levees  meanly  fawn'd, 
Nor  was  their  honour  yearly  pawn'd  : 
Their  hands,  by  no  corruption  stain'd, 
The  ministerial  bribe,  disdain'd. 
They  served  the  crown  with  loyal  zeal, 
Yet,  jealous  of  the  public  weal, 
They  stood,  the  bulwark  of  our  laws, 
And  wore  at  heart,  their  country's  cause. 
By  neither  place  nor  pension  bought, 
They  spoke  and  voted  as  they  thought ; 
Thus  did  your  sires  adorn  their  seat, 
And  such  alone  are  truly  great. 

If  you  the  paths  of  learning  slight, 
You're  but  a  dunce  in  stronger  light. 
In  foremost  rank,  the  coward  placed, 

Is  more  conspicuously  disgraced. 

If  you,  to  serve  a  paltry  end, 

To  knavish  jobs  can  condescend, 

We  pay  you  the  contempt  that's  due ; 

In  that,  you  have  precedence  too. 

Whence  had  you  this  illustrious  name  ? 

From  virtue  and  unblemish'd  fame. 

By  birth  the  name  alone  descends ; 

Your  honour  on  yourself  depends  : 

Think  not  your  coronet  can  hide 

Assuming  ignorance  and  pride. 


Learning  by  study  must  be  won, 
'Twas  ne'er  entail'd  from  son  to  son ; 
Superior  worth  your  rank  requires, 
For  that,  mankind  reveres  your  sires : 
If  you  degenerate  from  your  race, 
Their  merits  heighten  your  disgrace. 

A  Carrier,  every  night  and  morn, 
Would  see  his  horses  eat  their  corn : 
This  sunk  the  hostler's  vails,  'tis  true, 
But  then  his  horses  had  their  due. 
Were  we  so  cautious  in  all  cases, 
Small  gain  would  rise  from  greater  places. 

The  manger  now  had  all  its  measure ; 
He  heard  the  grinding  teeth  with  pleasure, 
When  all  at  once  confusion  rung — 
They  snorted,  jostled,  bit,  and  flung. 
A  pack-horse  turn'd  his  head  aside, 
Foaming,  his  eyeballs  swell'd  with  pride. 

"  Good  gods  ! "  says  he,  "  how  hard's  my  lot ! 
Is  then  my  high  descent  forgot  ? 
Eeduced  to  drudgery  and  disgrace, 
(A  life  unworthy  of  my  race) 
Must  I,  too,  bear  the  vile  attacks 
Of  ragged  scrubs  and  vulgar  hacks  ? 
See  scurvy  Eoan,  that  brute  ill-bred, 
Dares  from  the  manger,  thrust  my  head  ! 
Shall  I,  who  boast  a  noble  line, 
On  offals  of  these  creatures,  dine ! 
Kick'd  by  old  Ball !  so  mean  a  foe  ! 
My  honour  suffers  by  the  blow. 
Newmarket  speaks  my  grandsire's  fame, 
All  jockeys  still  revere  his  name  ; 

17 — 2 

260  GAY'S  FABLES. 

There,  yearly,  are  his  triumphs  told, 
There  all  his  massy  plates  enroll'd. 
Whene'er  led  forth  upon  the  plain, 
You  saw  him  with  a  livery  train : 
Eeturning,  too,  with  laurels  crown'd, 
You  heard  the  drums  and  trumpets  sound. 
Let  it  then,  Sir,  be  understood, 
Respect's  my  due,  for  I  have  blood." 

"  Vain-glorious  fool ! "  the  Carrier  cried. 
"  Eespect  was  never  paid  to  pride. 
Know  'twas  thy  giddy  wilful  heart 
Eeduced  thee  to  this  slavish  part. 
Did  not  thy  headstrong  youth  disdain 
To  learn  the  conduct  of  the  rein  ? 
Thus  coxcombs,  blind  to  real  merit, 
In  vicious  frolics,  fancy  spirit. 
What  is't  to  me  by  whom  begot, 
Thou  restive,  pert,  conceited  sot  ? 
Your  sires  I  reverence — 'tis  their  due, 
But,  worthless  fool,  what's  that  to  you  ? 
Ask  all  the  Carriers  on  the  road, 
They'll  say  thy  keeping's  ill  bestow'd. 
Then  vaunt  no  more  thy  noble  race, 
That  neither  mends  thy  strength  nor  pace. 
What  profits  me,  thy  boast  of  blood  ? 
An  ass  hath  more  intrinsic  good. 
By  outward  show  let's  not  be  cheated ; 
An  ass,  should,  like  an  ass,  be  treated." l 

1  This  Fable  strongly  inculcates  the  truth,  that  learning  and  virtue  are 
not,  like  honours,  hereditary :  and  that  high  birth  and  elevated  stations, 
when  misapplied  and  degenerated,  only  serve  to  render  bad  conduct  more 
conspicuous,  and  vice  more  hideous.    As  GAT  justly  observes  :— 
"  In  foremost  ranks,  the  coward  placed, 
Is  more  conspicuously  disgraced.' 


PAN       AND       FORTUNE. 

(TO    A    YOUNG    HEIB.) 

SOON  as  your  father's  death  was  known 
(As  if  th'  estate  had  been  their  own), 
The  gamesters  outwardly  exprest 
The  decent  joy  within  your  breast : 
So  lavish  in  your  praise  they  grew, 
As  spoke  their  certain  hopes  in  you. 

One  counts  your  income  of  the  year, 
How  much  in  ready  money  clear. 


262  GAY'S  FABLES. 

"  No  house,"  says  he,  "  is  more  complete, 
The  garden's  elegant  and  great. 
How  fine  the  park  around  it  lies ! 
The  timber's  of  a  noble  size ! 
Then  count  his  jewels  and  his  plate ! 
Besides,  'tis  no  entail'd  estate. 
If  cash  run  low,  his  lands  in  fee 
Are,  or  for  sale  or  mortgage,  free." 

Thus  they,  before  you  threw  the  main, 
Seem  to  anticipate  their  gain. 

Would  you,  when  thieves  are  known  abroad, 
Bring  forth  your  treasures  in  the  road  ? 
Would  not  the  fool  abet  the  stealth, 
Who  rashly  thus  exposed  his  wealth  ? 
Yet  this  you  do  whene'er  you  play 
Among  the  gentlemen  of  prey  ? 

Could  fools  to  keep  their  own,  contrive, 
On  what,  on  whom,  could  gamesters  thrive  ? 
Is  it  in  charity,  you  game, 
To  save  your  worthy  gang  from  shame  ? 
Unless  you  f urnish'd  daily  bread, 
Which  way  could  idleness  be  fed  ? 
Could  these  professors  of  deceit, 
Within  the  law,  no  longer  cheat, 
They  must  run  bolder  risks  for  prey, 
And  strip  the  traveller  on  the  way. 
Thus  in  your  annual  rents  they  share, 
And  'scape  the  noose  from  year  to  year. 

Consider,  e'er  you  make  the  bet, 
That  sum  might  cross  your  tailor's  debt ; 
When  you  the  pilfering  rattle  shake, 
Is  not  your  honour,  too,  at  stake  ? 


Must  you  not,  by  mean  lies,  evade 

To-morrow's  duns  from  every  trade  ? 

By  promises  so  often  paid, 

Is  yet  your  tailor's  bill  defray 'd  ? 

Must  you  not  pitifully  fawn 

To  have  your  butcher's  writ  withdrawn  ? 

This  must  be  done.     In -debts  of  play, 

Your  honour  suffers  no  delay ; 

And  not  this  year's  and  next  year's  rent 

The  sons  of  Eapine  can  content. 

Look  round ;  the  wrecks  of  play  behold ; 
Estates  dismember'd,  mortgaged,  sold ! 
Their  owners  now  to  jails  confined, 
Show  equal  poverty  of  mind. 
Some,  who  the  spoil  of  knaves  were  made, 
Too  late  attempt  to  learn  their  trade. 
Some,  for  the  folly  of  one  hour, 
Become  the  dirty  tools  of  power, 
And,  with  the  mercenary  list, 
Upon  court  charity  subsist. 

You'll  find  at  last  this  maxim  true — 
Fools  are  the  game  which  knaves  pursue. 

The  forest  (a  whole  century's  shade), 
Must  be  one  wasteful  ruin  made : 
No  mercy's  shown  to  age  or  kind — 
The  general  massacre  is  sign'd. 
The  park,  too,  shares  the  dreadful  fate ; 
Tor  duns  grow  louder  at  the  gate. 
Stern  clowns,  obedient  to  the  squire 
(What  will  not  barbarous  hands  for  hire  ?), 
With  brawny  arms  repeat  the  stroke ', 
Fall'n  are  the  elm  and  reverend  oak. 

264  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Through  the  long  wood,  loud  axes  sound, 
And  Echo  groans  with  every  wound. 

To  see  the  desolation  spread, 
Pan  drops  a  tear,  and  hangs  his  head : 
His  bosom  now  with  fury  burns, 
Beneath  his  hoof,  the  dice  he  spurns. 
Cards,  too,  in  peevish  passion  torn, 
The  sport  of  whirling  winds  are  borne. 

"  To  snails,  inveterate  hate  I  bear, 
Who  spoil  the  verdure  of  the  year : 
The  caterpillar  I  detest, 
The  blooming  Spring's  voracious  pest ; 
The  locust,  too,  whose  ravenous  band 
Spreads  sudden  famine  o'er  the  land ; 
But  what  are  these  ?     The  dice's  throw 
At  once  hath  laid  a  forest  low.1 
The  cards  are  dealt,  the  bet  is  made, 
And  the  wide  park  hath  lost  its  shade. 
Thus  is  my  kingdom's  pride  defaced, 
And  all  its  ancient  glories  waste. 
All  this,"  he  cries,  "  is  Fortune's  doing ; 
'Tis  thus  she  meditates  my  ruin. 
By  Fortune,  that  false,  fickle  jade ! 
More  havoc  in  one  hour  is  made, 
Than  all  the  hungry  insect-race, 
Combined,  can  in  an  age  deface." 

Fortune,  by  chance,  who  near  him  past, 
Overheard  the  vile  aspersion  cast : 

"Why,  Pan,"  says  she,  "  what's  all  this  rant  ? 
'Tis  every  country-bubble's  cant. 

i  Smith,  the  author  of  "  Gaieties  and  Gravities,"  defines  dice  "  Playthings 
which  the  devil  sets  in  motion,  when  he  wants  a  new  supply  of  knaves, 
beggars,  and  suicides."— OWEN. 


Am  I  the  patroness  of  vice  ? 
Is't  I  who  cog  or  palm  the  dice  ? l 
Did  I  the  shuffling  art  reveal, 
To  mark  the  cards,  or  range  the  deal  ? 
In  all  th'  employments  men  pursue, 
I  mind  the  least,  what  gamesters  do. 
There  may  (if  computation's  just) 
One,  now  and  then,  my  conduct  trust. 
I  blame  the  fool,  for  what  can  I, 
When  ninety-nine,  my  power  defy  ? 
These  trust  alone,  their  fingers'  ends, 
And  not  one  stake,  on  me,  depends. 
Whene'er  the  gaming-board  is  set, 
Two  classes  of  mankind  are  met ; 
But  if  we  count  the  greedy  race, 
The  knaves,  fill  up  the  greater  space. 
'Tis  a  gross  error,  held  in  schools, 
That  Fortune  always  favours  fools. 
In  play,  it  never  bears  dispute : 
That  doctrine,  these  fell'd  oaks  confute. 
Then  why  to  me,  such  rancour  show  ? 
'Tis  Folly,  Pan,  that  is  thy  foe, 
By  me,  his  late  estate  he  won, 
But  he  by  Folly,  was  undone." 

l  To  cog  the  dice  means  to  load  them  with  a  small  bit  of  lead,  by  which 
means  one  particular  number  is  often  thrown. 

To  palm  the  dice  means  to  convey  them  under  the  palm  of  the  hand 
and  substitute  others  in  their  stead.    As  Prior  says : — 

"  Theypalm'd  the  trick  that  lost  the  game." 
Gay  also,  in  his  "  Newgate's  Garland," 

"  The  gallants  of  Newgate,  whose  fingers  are  nice. 
In  diving  in  pockets,  and  cogging  of  dice." 



OF  all  the  burdens  man  must  bear, 
Time,  seems  most  galling  and  severe : 
Beneath  this  grievous  load  oppress'd, 
We  daily  meet  some  friend  distress'd. 

"  What  can  one  do  ?  I  rose  at  nine : 
Tis  full  six  hours  before  we  dine  : 
Six  hours !  no  earthly  thing  to  do  ! 
Would  I  had  dozed  in  bed  till  two." 

A  pamphlet  is  before  him  spread, 
And  almost  half  a  page  is  read ; 
Tired  with  the  study  of  the  day, 
The  fluttering  sheets  are  toss'd  away ; 


He  opes  his  snuff-box,  hums  an  air, 
Then  yawns,  and  stretches  in  his  chair. 

"  Not  twenty,  by  the  minute  hand ! 
Good  gods  ! "  says  he,  "  my  watch  must  stand ! 
How  muddling  'tis  on  books  to  pore  ! 
I  thought  I'd  read  an  hour  or  more. 
The  morning,  of  all  hours,  I  hate : 
One  can't  contrive  to  rise  too  late." 

To  make  the  minutes  faster  run, 
Then,  too,  his  tiresome  self  to  shun, 
To  the  next  coffee-house  he  speeds, 
Takes  up  the  news — some  scraps  he  reads. 
Sauntering  from  chair  to  chair,  he  trails ; 
Now  drinks  his  tea,  now  bites  his  nails. 
He  spies  a  partner  of  his  woe, 
By  chat,  afflictions  lighter  grow ; 
Each  other's  grievances  they  share, 
And  thus  their  dreadful  hours  compare. 

Says  Tom,  "  Since  all  men  must  confess 
That  time  lies  heavy,  more  or  less, 
Why  should  it  be  so  hard  to  get, 
Till  two,  a  party  at  piquet  ? 
Play  might  relieve  the  lagging  morn : 
By  cards,  long  wintry  nights  are  borne. 
Does  not  quadrille  amuse  the  fair,1 
Night  after  night,  throughout  the  year  ? 

1  When  Gay  -wrote  his  Fable,  Quadrille  was  the  most  fashionable  game, 
in  vogue.*    He  has  written  a  Ballad  on  Quadrille,  which  thus  begins . — 
"  When  as  corruption  hence  did  go, 

And  left  the  nation  free  ; 
When  ay  said  ay,  and  no  said  no, 

Without  or  place  or  fee ; 
Then  Satan,  thinking  things  went  ill, 
Sent  forth  his  spirit;,  call'd  Quadrille. 

Quadrille,  Quadrille,  Quadrille!" 

*  It  should  be  noted  that  the  Quadrille  referred  to  was  a  game  of  cards 
and  not  the  popular  dance  of  the  same  name. 

268  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Vapours  and  spleen  forgot,  at  play 
They  cheat  uncounted  hours  away." 

"  My  case,"  says  Will,  "  then  must  be  hard, 
By  want  of  skill  from  play  debarr'd. 
Courtiers  kill  time  by  various  ways ; 
Dependance  wears  out  half  their  days. 
How  happy  these,  whose  time  ne'er  stands ! 
Attendance  takes  it  off  their  hands. 
Were  it  not  for  this  cursed  shower, 
The  Park  had  whiled  away  an  hour. 
At  court,  without  or  place  or  view, 
I  daily  lose  an  hour  or  two, 
It  fully  answers  my  design, 
When  I  have  pick'd  up  friends  to  dine ; 
The  tavern  makes  our  burden  light — 
Wine  puts  our  time  and  care  to  flight. 
At  six  (hard  case !)  they  call  to  pay. 
Where  can  one  go  ?  I  hate  the  play. 
From  six  till  ten !  unless  in  sleep, 
One  cannot  spend  the  hours  so  cheap. 
The  comedy's  no  sooner  done 
But  some  assembly  is  begun ; 
Loitering  from  room  to  room  I  stray, 
Converse,  but  nothing  hear  or  say : 
Quite  tired,  from  fair  to  fair  I  roam — 
So  soon  !  I  dread  the  thoughts  of  home. 
From  thence,  to  quicken  slow-paced  Night, 
Again  my  tavern-friends  invite : 
Here,  too,  our  early  mornings  pass, 
Till  drowsy  sleep  retards  the  glass." 

Thus  they  their  wretched  life  bemoan, 
And  make  each  other's  case,  their  own. 


Consider,  friends,  no  hour  rolls  on 
But  something  of  your  grief  is  gone. 
Were  you  to  schemes  of  business  bred, 
Did  you  the  paths  of  learning  tread, 
Your  hours,  your  days  would  fly  too  fast ; 
You'd  then  regret  the  minute  past. 
Time's  fugitive  and  light  as  wind ! 
'Tis  indolence  that  clogs  your  mind. 
That  load  from  off  your  spirits  shake, 
You'll  own  and  grieve  for  youT  mistake. 
Awhile,  your  thoughtless  spleen  suspend, 
Then  read,  and  (if  you  can)  attend. 

As  Plutus,  to  divert  his  care, 
Walk'd  forth  one  morn  to  take  the  air, 
Cupid  o'ertook  his  strutting  pace. 
Each  stared  upon  the  stranger's  face, 
Till  recollection  set  them  right, 
For  each  knew  t'other  but  by  sight. 
After  some  complimental  talk, 
Time  met  them,  bow'd,  and  join'd  their  walk : 
Their  chat  on  various  subjects  ran, 
But  most,  what  each  had  done  for  man. 
Plutus  assumes  a  haughty  air, 
Just  like  our  purse-proud  fellows  here : 

"  Let  kings,"  says  he,  "  let  cobblers  tell, 
Whose  gifts  among  mankind  excel, 
Consider  courts ;  what  draws  their  train  ? 
Think  you  'tis  loyalty  or  gain  ? 
That  statesman  hath  the  strongest  hold, 
Whose  tool  of  politics  is  gold. 
By  that,  in  former  reigns,  'tis  said, 
The  knave  in  power  hath  senates  led : 

270  GAY'S  FABLES. 

By  that  alone,  he  sway'd  debates, 
Enrich'd  himself,  and  beggar'd  states. 
Forego  your  boast.     You  must  conclude 
That's  most  esteem'd,  that's  most  pursued. 
Think,  too,  in  what  a  woful  plight 
That  wretch  must  live  whose  pocket's  light. 
Are  not  his  hourj3  by  want  deprest  ? 
Penurious  care  corrodes  his  breast : 
Without  respect,  or  love,  or  friends, 
His  solitary  day  descends." 

"  You  might,"  says  Cupid,  "  doubt  my  parts. 
My  knowledge,  too,  in  human  hearts, 
Should  I  the  power  of  gold  dispute, 
Which  great  examples  might  confute. 
I  know,  when  nothing  else  prevails 
Persuasive  money  seldom  fails ; 
That  beauty,  too,  (like  other  wares,) 
Its  price,  as  well  as  conscience,  bears. 
Then  marriage  (as  of  late  profess'd) 
Is  but  a  money-job  at  best. 
Consent,  compliance,  may  be  sold ; 
But  love's  beyond  the  price  of  gold. 
Smugglers  there  are  who,  by  retail, 
Expose  what  they  call  love  to  sale ; 
Such  bargains  are  an  arrant  cheat : 
You  purchase  flattery  and  deceit. 
Those  who  true  love  have  ever  tried, 
(The  common  cares  of  life  supplied,) 
No  wants  endure,  no  wishes  make, 
But  every  real  joy  partake. 
All  comfort,  on  themselves,  depends ; 
They  want  nor  power,  nor  wealth,  nor  friends. 


Love,  then,  hath  every  bliss  in  store ; 
'Tis  friendship,  and  'tis  something  more. 
Each  other  every  wish  they  give : 
Not  to  know  love,  is  not  to  live." 

"  Or  love,  or  money,"  Time  replied, 
"  Were  men  the  question  to  decide, 
Would  hear  the  prize :  on  both  intent, 
My  'boon's  neglected  or  mis-spent. 
'Tis  I  who  measure  vital  space, 
And  deal  out  years  to  human  race. 
Though  little  prized,  and  seldom  sought, 
Without  me,  love  and  gold  are  nought. 
How  does  the  miser  time  employ  ? 
Did  I  e'er  see  him  life  enjoy  ? 
By  me,  forsook,  the  hoards  he  won 
Are  scatter'd  by  his  lavish  son. 
By  me,  all  useful  arts  are  gain'd ; 
Wealth,  learning,  wisdom,  is  attain'd. 
Who,  then,  would  think  (since  such  my  power), 
That  e'er  I  knew  an  idle  hour  ? 
So  subtle  and  so  swift  I  fly, 
Love's  not  more  fugitive  than  I. 
Who  hath  not  heard  coquettes  complain 
Of  days,  months,  years,  mis-spent  in  vain  ? 
For  time  misused,  they  pine  and  waste, 
And  love's  sweet  pleasures  never  taste. 
Those  who  direct  their  time  aright, 
If  love  or  wealth  their  hopes  excite, 
In  each  pursuit,  fit  hours  employ'd, 
And  both  by  Time  have  been  enjoy'd. 
How  heedless,  then,  are  mortals  grown ; 
How  little  is  their  interest  known ! 

272  GAY'S  FABLES. 

In  every  view  they  ought  to  mind  me, 
For  when  once  lost,  they  never  find  me." 
He  spoke.     The  gods  no  more  contest, 
And  his  superior  gift  confest, 
That  Time  (when  truly  understood) 
Is  the  most  precious  earthly  good. 




CONVERSING  with  your  sprightly  boys, 
Your  eyes  have  spoke  the  Mother's  joys. 
With  what  delight  I've  heard  you  quote 
Their  sayings  in  imperfect  note  ! 

I  grant,  in  body  and  in  mind 
Nature  appears  profusely  kind. 

273  18 

274  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Trust  not  to  that.     Act  you  your  part ; 
Imprint  just  morals  on  their  heart ; l 
Impartially  their  talents  scan : 
Just  education  forms  the  man. 

Perhaps  (their  genius  yet  unknown) 
Each  lot  of  life's  already  thrown ; 
That  this  shall  plead,  the  next  shall  fight, 
The  last  assert  the  church's  right. 
I  censure  not  the  fond  intent ; 
But  how  precarious  is  th'  event ! 
By  talents  misapplied  and  crost, 
Consider,  all  your  sons  are  lost. 

One  day  (the  tale's  by  Martial  penn'd) 
A  Father  thus  address'd  his  friend  : 
"  To  train  my  boy,  and  call  forth  sense, 
You  know  I've  stuck  at  no  expense. 
I've  tried  him  in  the  several  arts 
(The  lad,  no  doubt,  hath  latent  parts) ; 
Yet  trying  all,  he  nothing  knows, 
But,  crab-like,  rather  backward  goes, 
Teach  me  what  yet  remains  undone — 
'Tis  your  advice  shall  fix  my  son." 

"  Sir,"  says  the  friend, "  I've  weigh'd  the  matter 
Excuse  me,  for  I  scorn  to  natter : 
Make  him  (nor  think  his  genius  check'd) 
A  herald,  or  an  architect." 

Perhaps  (as  commonly  'tis  known) 
He  heard  th'  advice,  and  took  his  own. 

i  The  frequent  references  to  classical  authors  and  subjects  as  made  in 
this  and  other  Fables  of  Gay  shows  the  familiarity  of  our  author  with 
ancient  writers.  We  do  not  consider  it  necessary  to  comment  in  this 
place  upon  these  varied  topics,  as  most  readers  of  these  Fables  will  have  a 
fair  knowledge  of  the  classics. 

THE  OWL,  THE  SWAN,  THE  COCK,  ETC.    275 

The  boy  wants  wit ;  he's  sent  to  school, 
Where  learning  but  improves  the  fool : 
The  college  next  must  give  him  parts, 
And  cram  him  with  the  liberal  arts. 
Whether  he  blunders  at  the  bar, 
Or  owes  his  infamy  to  war, 
Or  if  by  licence  or  degree 
The  sexton  share  the  doctor's  fee ; 
Or  from  the  pulpit  by  the  hour 
He  weekly  floods  of  nonsense  pour, 
We  find  (th'  intent  of  Nature  foil'd) 
A  tailor  or  a  butcher  spoil'd. 

Thus  ministers  have  royal  boons 
Conferr'd  on  blockheads  and  buffoons ; 
In  spite  of  nature,  merit,  wit, 
Their  friends  for  every  post  were  fit. 

But  now  let  every  Muse  confess 
That  merit  finds  its  due  success. 
Th'  examples  of  our  days  regard ; 
Where's  virtue  seen  without  reward  ? 
Distinguish'd,  and  in  place,  you  find 
Desert  and  worth  of  every  kind. 
Survey  the  reverend  bench,  and  see 
Eeligion,  learning,  piety : 
The  patron,  ere  he  recommends, 
See  his  own  image  in  his  friend's. 
Is  honesty  disgraced  and  poor  ?1 
What  is't  to  us  what  was  before  ? 

i  The  moral  of  this  Fable  is  founded  upon  the  supposition  that  children 
are  born  with  a  genius  for  some  particular  pursuit,  as  the  swan  is  calcu- 
lated for  the  water,  the  game-cock  for  fighting,  the  spider  for  spinning, 
and  that  some,  like  the  ass,  are  incapable  of  improvement,  but  are  stamped 
blockheads  from  their  cradle.  It  is  not  necessary  to  pursue  the  subject 

18 — 2 

276  GAY'S  FABLES. 

We  all  of  times  corrupt  have  heard. 
When  paltry  minions  were  preferr'd ; 
When  all  great  offices,  by  dozens, 
Were  fill'd  by  brothers,  sons,  and  cousins. 
What  matter  ignorance  and  pride  ? 
The  man  was  happily  allied. 
Provided  that  his  clerk  was  good, 
What  though  he  nothing  understood  ? 
In  church  and  state,  the  sorry  race 
Grew  more  conspicuous  fools,  in  place. 
Such  heads,  as  then,  a  treaty  made, 
Had  bungled  in  the  cobbler's  trade. 

Consider,  patrons,  that  such  elves 
Expose  your  folly  with  themselves. 
'Tis  yours,  as  'tis  the  parent's  care, 
To  fix  each  genius  in  its  sphere. 
Your  partial  hand  can  wealth  dispense, 
But  never  give  a  blockhead  sense. 

An  Owl  of  magisterial  air, 
Of  solemn  voice,  of  brow  austere, 
Assumed  the  pride  of  human  race, 
And  bore  his  wisdom  in  his  face ; 
Not  to  depreciate  learned  eyes, 
I've  seen  a  pedant  look  as  wise. 

Within  a  barn,  from  noise  retired, 
He  scorn'd  the  world,  himself  admired ; 
And,  like  an  ancient  sage,  conceal'd 
The  follies  public  life  reveal'd. 

Philosophers  of  old,  he  read, 
Their  country's  youth  to  science  bred ; 
Their  manners  form'd  for  every  station, 
And  destined  each  his  occupation. 

THE  OWL,  THE  SWAN,  THE  COCK,  ETC.    277 

When  Xenophon,  by  numbers  braved, 
Retreated,  and  a  people  saved, 
That  laurel  was  not  all  his  own ; 
The  plant  by  Socrates  was  sown. 
To  Aristotle's  greater  name 
The  Macedonian  owed  his  fame. 

The  Athenian  bird,  with  pride  replete, 
Their  talents  equall'd  in  conceit ; 
And,  copying  the  Socratic  rule, 
Set  up  for  master  of  a  school. 
Dogmatic  jargon  learnt  by  heart, 
Trite  sentences,  hard  terms  of  art, 
To  vulgar  ears  seem'd  so  profound, 
They  fancied  learning  in  the  sound. 

The  school  had  fame ;  the  crowded  place 
With  pupils  swarm'd  of  every  race. 
With  these  the  Swan's  maternal  care 
Had  sent  her  scarce-fledged  cygnet  heir ; 
The  Hen  (though  fond  and  loth  to  part) 
Here  lodged  the  darling  of  her  heart ; 
The  Spider,  of  mechanic  kind, 
Aspired  to  science  more  refined ; 
The  Ass  learnt  metaphors  and  tropes, 
But  most  on  music  fix'd  his  hopes. 

The  pupils  now,  advanced  in  age, 
Were  call'd  to  tread  life's  busy  stage ; 
And  to  the  Master  'twas  submitted, 
That  each  might  to  his  part  be  fitted. 

"  The  Swan,"  says  he,  "  in  arms  shall  shine ; 
The  soldier's  glorious  toil  be  thine. 
The  Cock  shall  mighty  wealth  attain — 
Go,  seek  it  on  the  stormy  main. 

278  GAY'S  FABLES. 

The  court  shall  be  the  Spider's  sphere : 
Power,  fortune,  shall  reward  him  there. 
In  music's  art  the  Ass's  fame 
Shall  emulate  Corelli's  name."1 

Each  took  the  part  that  he  advised, 
And  all  were  equally  despised. 
A  Farmer,  at  his  folly  moved, 
The  dull  preceptor  thus  reproved : 

"  Blockhead,"  says  he,  "  by  what  you've  done, 
One  would  have  thought  'em  each  your  son  ; 
For  parents,  to  their  offspring  blind, 
Consult  nor  parts  nor  turn  of  mind, 
But  e'en  in  infancy  decree 
What  this,  what  t'other  son  shall  be. 
Had  you  with  judgment  weigh'd  the  case, 
Their  genius  thus  had  fix'd  their  place  ; 
The  Swan  had  learnt  the  sailor's  art ; 
The  Cock  had  play'd  the  soldier's  part ; 
The  Spider  in  the  weaver's  trade 
With  credit  had  a  fortune  made ; 
But  for  the  fool,  in  every  class 
The  blockhead  had  appear'd  an  Ass/' 

1  Corelli  was  a  famous  musician,  who  died  at  Rome  in  1713.  He  seems 
to  have  been  a  favourite  with  Gay,  for  he  speaks  of  him  in  his  Epistle  to 
William  Pulteney,  Esq.,  musician:— 

"  Mentions  the  force  of  learn'd  Corelli's  notes." 



(TO     A     POOR     MAN.) 

CONSIDER  man  in  every  sphere, 

Then  tell  me,  is  your  lot  severe  ? 

'Tis  murmur,  discontent,  distrust, 

That  makes  you  wretched.     God  is  just ! 

I  grant  that  hunger  must  be  fed, 
That  toil,  too,  earns  thy  daily  bread. 
What  then  ?     Thy  wants  are  seen  and  known, 
But  every  mortal  feels  his  own. 

280  GAY'S  FABLES. 

We're  born  a  restless,  needy  crew : 
Show  me  the  happier  man  than  you. 

Adam,  though  blest  above  his  kind, 
For  want  of  social  woman,  pined. 
Eve's  wants  the  subtle  serpent  saw — 
Her  fickle  taste  transgress'd  the  law  : 
Thus  fell  our  sires,  and  their  disgrace 
The  curse  entailed  on  human  race. 

When  Philip's  son,  by  glory  led, 
Had,  o'er  the  globe,  his  empire  spread ; 
When  altars  to  his  name  were  dress'd, 
That  he  was  man,  his  tears  confess'd. 

The  hopes  of  avarice  are  check'd : 
The  proud  man  always  wants  respect. 
What  various  wants  on  power  attend ! 
Ambition  never  gains  its  end. 
Who  hath  not  heard  the  rich  complain 
Of  surfeits  and  corporeal  pain  ? 
He,  barr'd  from  every  use  of  wealth, 
Envies  the  ploughman's  strength  and  health. 
Another,  in  a  beauteous  wife 
Finds  all  the  miseries  of  life : 
Domestic  jars  and  jealous  fear 
Imbitter  all  his  days  with  care. 
This  wants  an  heir — the  line  is  lost : 
Why  was  that  vain  entail  engross'd  ? 
Canst  thou  discern  another's  mind  ? 
What  is't  you  envy  ?     Envy's  blind, 
Tell  Envy,  when  she  would  annoy, 
That  thousands  want  what  you  enjoy. 

"  The  dinner  must  be  dish'd  at  one. 
Where's  this  vexatious  Turnspit  gone  ? 


Unless  the  skulking  Cur  is  caught, 

The  sirloin's  spoil'd,  and  I'm  in  fault." 

Thus  said,  (for  sure  you'll  think  it  fit 

That  I  the  Cook-maid's  oaths  omit,) 

With  all  the  fury  of  a  cook, 

Her  cooler  kitchen,  Nan  forsook. 

The  broomstick  o'er  her  head  she  waves ; 

She  sweats,  she  stamps,  she  puffs,  she  raves, 

The  sneaking  Cur  before  her  flies, 

She  whistles,  calls,  fair  speech  she  tries : 

These  nought  avail.     Her  choler  burns ; 

The  fist  and  cudgel  threat  by  turns : 

"With  hasty  stride  she  presses  near ; 

He  slinks  aloof,  and  howls  with  fear. 

"  Was  ever  Cur  so  cursed  ! "  he  cried ; 
"  What  star  did  at  my  birth  preside ! 
Am  I  for  life  by  compact  bound 
To  tread  the  wheel's  eternal  round  ? 
Inglorious  task  !  of  all  our  race 
No  slave  is  half  so  mean  and  base. 
Had  Fate  a  kinder  lot  assign'd, 
And  form'd  me  of  the  lap-dog  kind, 
I  then,  in  higher  life  employ'd, 
Had  indolence  and  ease  enjoy'd ; 
And,  like  a  gentleman,  caress'd, 
Had  been  the  lady's  favourite  guest. 
Or  were  I  sprung  from  spaniel  line, 
Was  his  sagacious  nostril  mine, 
By  me,  their  never-erring  guide, 
From  wood  and  plain  their  feasts  supplied, 
Knights,  squires,  attendant  on  my  pace, 
Had  shared  the  pleasures  of  the  chase. 

282  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Endued  with  native  strength  and  fire, 
Why  call'd  I  not  the  lion,  sire  ? 
A  lion !  such  mean  views  I  scorn — 
Why  was  I  not  of  woman  born  ? 
Who  dares  with  reason's  power  contend  ? 
On  man,  we  brutal  slaves,  depend : 
To  him,  all  creatures,  tribute  pay, 
And  luxury  employs  his  day." 

An  Ox  by  chance  o'erheard  his  moan, 
And  thus  rebuked  the  lazy  drone : 

"  Dare  you  at  partial  Fate  repine  ? 
How  kind's  your  lot  compared  with  mine ! 
Decreed  to  toil,  the  barbarous  knife 
Hath  sever'd  me  from  social  life ; 
Urged  by  the  stimulating  goad, 
I  drag  the  cumbrous  waggon's  load. 
'Tis  mine  to  tame  the  stubborn  plain 
Break  the  stiff  soil,  and  house  the  grain ; 
Yet  I  without  a  murmur  bear 
The  various  labours  of  the  year. 
But  then,  consider,  that  one  day 
(Perhaps  the  hour's  not  far  away) 
You,  by  the  duties  of  your  post, 
Shall  turn  the  spit  when  I'm  the  roast ; 
And  for  reward  shall  share  the  feast — 
I  mean  shall  pick  my  bones  at  least." 

"  Till  now,"  th'  astonish'd  Cur  replies, 
"  I  look'd  on  all  with  envious  eyes. 
How  false  we  judge  by  what  appears ! 
All  creatures  feel  their  several  cares. 
If  thus  yon  mighty  beast  complains, 
Perhaps  man  knows  superior  pains. 


Let  envy,  then,  no  more  torment : 
Think  on  the  Ox,  and  learn  content." 

Thus  said,  close  following  at  her  heel, 
With  cheerful  heart  he  mounts  the  wheel.1 

i  The  moral  of  this  Fable  is  contained  in  the  third  and  fourth  lines  of 
the  opening  verse  :— 

"  'Tis  murmur,  discontent,  distrust, 

That  makes  you  wretched :  God  is  just  "— 
an  observation  often  admitted,  seldom  retained. 
Gay,  in  another  Fable,  exhorts  us  :— 

"  Appease  your  discontented  mind, 
And  a 




LAURA,  methinks  you're  over  nice, 
True,  flattery  is  a  shocking  vice ; 
Yet  sure,  whene'er  the  praise  is  just, 
One  may  commend  without  disgust. 
Am  I  a  privilege  denied, 
Indulged  by  every  tongue  beside  ? 
How  singular  are  all  your  ways ! 
A  woman,  and  averse  to  praise ! 


THE  RAVENS,  THE  SEXTON,  ETC.       285 

If  'tis  offence  such  truths  to  tell, 
Why  do  your  merits  ftius  excel  ? 

Since  then,  I  dare  not  speak  my  mind, 
A  truth  conspicuous  to  mankind ; 
Though  in  full  lustre  every  grace 
Distinguish  your  celestial  face  ; 
Though  beauties  of  inferior  ray 
(Like  stars  before  the  orb  of  day) 
Turn  pale  and  fade ;  I  check  my  lays, 
Admiring,  what  I  dare  not  praise, 

If  you  the  tribute  due,  disdain, 
The  Muse's  mortifying  strain 
Shall,  like  a  woman  in  mere  spite, 
Set  beauty  in  a  moral  light. 

Though  such  revenge  might  shock  the  ear 
Of  many  a  celebrated  fair, 
I  mean  that  superficial  race 
Whose  thoughts  ne'er  reach  beyond  their  face, 
What's  that  to  you  ?  I  but  displease 
Such  ever-girlish  ears  as  these. 
Virtue  can  brook  the  thoughts  of  age, 
That  lasts  the  same  through  every  stage. 
Though  you  by  time  must  suffer  more 
Than  ever  woman  lost  before, 
To  age  is  such  indifference  shown, 
As  if  your  face  were  not  your  own. 
Were  you  by  Antoninus  taught  ? 
Or  is  it  native  strength  of  thought 
That  thus,  without  concern  or  fright, 
You  view  yourself  by  Eeason's  light  ? 

Those  eyes,  of  so  divine  a  ray, 
What  are  they  ?  mouldering,  mortal  clay. 

286  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Those  features,  cast  in  heavenly  mould, 
Shall,  like  my  coarser  earth,  grow  old ; 
Like  common  grass,  the  fairest  flower 
Must  feel  the  hoary  season's  power. 

How  weak,  how  vain  is  human  pride ! 
Dares  man  upon  himself  confide ! 
The  wretch  who  glories  in  his  gain, 
Amasses  heaps  on  heaps  in  vain. 
Why  lose  we  life  in  anxious  cares, 
To  lay  in  hoards  for  future  years  ? 
Can  those  (when  tortured  by  disease) 
Cheer  our  sick  heart,  or  purchase  ease  ? 
Can  those  prolong  one  gasp  of  breath, 
Or  calm  the  troubled  hour  of  death  ? 

What's  beauty  ?  Call  ye  that  your  own  ? — 
A  flower  that  fades  as  soon  as  blown. 
What's  man,  in  all  his  boast  of  sway  ? — 
Perhaps  the  tyrant  of  a  day. 

Alike  the  laws  of  life  take  place 
Through  every  branch  of  human  race : 
The  monarch  of  long  regal  line 
Was  raised  from  dust  as  frail  as  mine. 
Can  he  pour  health  into  his  veins, 
Or  cool  the  fever's  restless  pains  ? 
Can  he  (worn  down  in  Nature's  course) 
New-brace  his  feeble  nerves  with  force  ? 
Can  he  (how  vain  is  mortal  power !) 
Stretch  life  beyond  the  destined  hour  ? 

Consider,  man ;  weigh  well  thy  frame ; 
The  king,  the  beggar  is  the  same. 
Dust  form'd  us  all.     Each  breathes  his  day, 
Then  sinks  into  his  native  clay. 

THE  RAVENS,  THE  SEXTON,  ETC.       287 

Beneath  a  venerable  yew, 
That  in  the  lonely  churchyard  grew, 
Two  Eavens  sate.     In  solemn  croak 
Thus  one,  his  hungry  friend,  bespoke. 

"  Methinks  I  scent  some  rich  repast ; 
The  savour  strengthens  with  the  blast ; 
Snuff  then,  the  promised  feast  inhale — 
I  taste  the  carcase  in  the  gale. 
Near  yonder  trees,  the  farmer's  steed, 
From  toil  and  every  drudgery  freed, 
Hath  groan'd  his  last — a  dainty  treat ! 
To  birds  of  taste,  delicious  meat." 

"A  Sexton  busy  at  his  trade, 
To  hear  their  chat,  suspends  his  spade. 
Death  struck  him  with  no  farther  thought, 
Than  merely  as  the  fees  he  brought. 
"  Was  ever  two  such  blundering  fowls  ? 
In  brains  and  manners  less  than  owls ! 
Blockheads,"  says  he,  "  learn  more  respect : 
Know  ye  on  whom  ye  thus  reflect  ? 
In  this  same  grave  (who  does  me  right, 
Must  own  the  work  is  strong  and  tight) 
The  Squire  that  yon  fair  hall  possess'd, 
To-night  shall  lay  his  bones  at  rest. 
Whence  could  the  gross  mistake  proceed  ? 
The  Squire  was  somewhat  fat  indeed ; 
What  then  ?     The  meanest  bird  of  prey 
Such  want  of  sense  could  ne'er  betray : 
For  sure  some  difference  must  be  found 
(Suppose  the  smelling  organ,  sound) 
In  carcases,  (say  what  we  can) 
Or  where's  the  dignity  of  man  ? " 

288  GAY'S  FABLES. 

With  due  respect  to  human  race, 
The  Ravens  undertook  the  case. 
In  such  similitude  of  scent, 
Man  ne'er  could  think  reflections  meant, 
As  epicures  extol  a  treat, 
And  seem  their  savoury  words  to  eat, 
They  praised  dead  horse,  luxurious  food, 
The  venison  of  the  prescient  brood ! 

The  Sexton's  indignation  moved, 
The  mean  comparison  reproved ; 
Their  undiscerning  palate  blamed, 
Which  two-legg'd  carrion  thus  defamed. 

Eeproachful  speech  from  either  side 
The  want  of  argument  supplied : 
They  rail,  revile — as  often  ends 
The  contest  of  disputing  friends. 

"  Hold,"  says  the  fowl,  "  since  human  pride 
With  confutation  ne'er  complied, 
Let's  state  the  case,  and  then  refer 
The  knotty  point ;  for  taste  may  err." 
As  thus  he  spoke,  from  out  the  mould 
An  Earth-worm,  huge  of  size,  unroll'd 
His  monstrous  length.     They  straight  agree 
To  choose  him  as  their  referee : 
So  to  th'  experience  of  his  jaws, 
Each  states  the  merits  of  the  cause. 

He  paused,  and  with  a  solemn  tone, 
Thus  made  his  sage  opinion  known  : 

"  On  carcases,  of  every  kind 
This  maw  hath  elegantly  dined ; 
Provoked  by  luxury  or  need, 
On  beast,  on  fowl,  on  man,  I  feed ; 

THE  RAVENS,  THE  SEXTON,  ETC.       289 

Such  small  distinction's  in  the  savour, 

By  turns  I  choose  the  fancied  flavour  : 

Yet  I  must  own  (that  human  beast) 

A  glutton,  is  the  rankest  feast. 

Man,  cease  this  boast ;  for  human  pride 

Hath  various  tracts  to  range  beside. 

The  prince  who  kept  the  world  in  awe, 

The  judge  whose  dictate  fix'd  the  law, 

The  rich,  the  poor,  the  great,  the  small, 

Are  levell'd — death  confounds  'em  all. 

Then  think  not  that  we  reptiles  share 

Such  cates,  such  elegance  of  fare ; 

The  only  true  and  real  good 

Of  man,  was  never  vermin's  food  : 

'Tis  seated  in  th'  immortal  mind  ; 

Virtue  distinguishes  mankind, 

And  that  (as  yet  ne'er  harbour'd  here) 

Mounts  with  the  soul,  we  know  not  where. 

So,  good-man  Sexton,  since  the  case 

Appears  with  such  a  dubious  face, 

To  neither  I  the  cause  determine, 

For  different  tastes  please  different  vermin." 1 

i  In  this  Fable  (the  last  in  the  earlier  editions)  we  are  impressed  with  the 
fact  that  there  is  no  distinction  beyond  the  grave,  but  that  which 
"  Is  seated  in  the  immortal  mind ; 
Virtue  distinguishes  mankind," 
and  persuades  us  to  labour  to  attain  that  great  distinction. 




IN  Fable  all  things  hold  discourse ; 

Then  words,  no  doubt,  must  talk  of  course. 

Once  on  a  time,  near  Cannon  Row, 
Two  hostile  adverbs,  Ay  and  No,1 

1  "Ay  and  No."  This  Fable  was  not  included  in  the  earlier  editions,  but 
is  to  be  found  in  nearly  all  those  issued  during  the  present  century.  It 
was  probably  first  published  in  "  Swift's  Miscellanies,"  where  it  appears 
with  sundry  other  pieces  by  Gay,  which  have  likewise  been  included  in 
recent  editions  of  the  poet's  works.  "Ay  and  No"  is  to  be  found  in  the 
following  editions  of  the  Fables  which  we  have  examined :— 1793,  180G, 
1808  (two  editions),  1812, 1816  (two  editions),  1820,  1824, 1826, 1828, 1834, 1854, 
1857, 1866, 1870. 


AYE  AND  NO.  291 

Were  hastening  to  the  field  of  fight, 
And  front  to  front  stood  opposite. 
Before  each  general  join'd  the  van, 
Ay,  the  more  courteous  knight,  began : — 

"  Stop,  peevish,  Particle  !  beware ! 
I'm  told  you  are  not  such  a  bear, 
But  sometimes  yield  when  offer'd  fair. 
Suffer  yon  folks  awhile  to  tattle — 
'Tis  we  who  must  decide  the  battle. 
Whene'er  we  war  on  yonder  stage, 
With  various  fate  and  equal  rage, 
The  nation  trembles  at  each  blow 
That  No  gives  Ay,  and  Ay  gives  No  ; 
Yet,  in  expensive  long  contention, 
We  gain  nor  office,  grant,  nor  pension. 
Why,  then,  should  kinsfolk  quarrel  thus  ? 
(For  two  of  you  make  one  of  us.) 
To  some  wise  statesman  let  us  go, 
Where  each  his  proper  use  may  know : 
He  may  admit  two  such  commanders, 
And  make  those  wait  who   served  in 


Let's  quarter  on  a  great  man's  tongue, 
A  treasury-lord,  not  Master  Young. 
Obsequious  at  his  high  command. 
Ay  shall  march  forth  to  tax  the  land ; 
Impeachments,  No  can  best  resist, 
And  Ay  support  the  Civil  List : 
Ay,  quick  as  Caesar,  wins  the  day, 
And  No,  like  Fabius,  by  delay. 
Sometimes  in  mutual  sly  disguise, 
Let  Ay's  seem  No's,  and  No's  seem  Ay's ; 

19 — 2 

292  GAY'S  FABLES. 

Ay's  be,  in  courts,  denials  meant, 
And  No's,  in  bishops  give  consent." 

Thus  Ay  proposed — and,  for  reply, 
No,  for  the  first  time,  answer'd  "  Ay ! " 
They  parted  with  a  thousand  kisses, 
And  fight  e'er  since  for  pay,  like  Swisses. 



THE  attempt  to  compile  a  fairly  accurate  and  compre- 
hensive list  of  the  editions  of  Gay's  Fables  has  been 
attended  with  considerable  difficulty,  owing  to  the  peculiar 
nature  of  his  works,  coupled  with  the  fact  that,  as  far  as 
we  are  aware,  no  complete  collection  of  the  writings  of 
this  talented  author  exists. 

The  British  Museum  possesses  a  considerable  number 
of  editions  of  the  Fables,  and  the  list  of  Gay's  works 
included  in  the  printed  Catalogue  of  the  National  Library 
covers  a  wide  field,  containing  over  two  hundred  entries ; 
the  "  Bibliotheca  Devoniensis,"  published  in  1852  (which 
ought  to  be  a  reliable-  guide),  has  less  than  a  dozen  entries, 
and  is  therefore  of  no  practical  value.  In  the  present 
list,  in  addition  to  those  mentioned  in  the  Catalogue  of 
the  British  Museum,  many  editions  are  included  which 
are  not  found  in  the  National  Collection,  the  compiler 
having,  for  many  years,  sought  out  copies  of  every  obtain- 
able edition  of  the  works  of  this  notable  Devonshire  poet, 
and  while  this  list  is  not  submitted  as  an  exhaustive  one, 
seeing  that  information  of  new  editions  here  and  there 
continues  to  arrive,  it  is  to  be  hoped  this  first  effort  to 
produce  such  a  bibliography  as  follows  will  be  of  service 
to  other  collectors,  and  assist  all  students  of  this  important 
branch  of  literature. 

As  will  be  seen,  the  Fables  have  passed  through  nume- 
rous editions,  and  still  retain  their  popularity.  They  have 
been  translated  into  several  of  the  European  languages 

296  GAY'S  FABLES. 

and  some  of  the  vernaculars  of  India;  several  editions 
have  also  appeared  in  America.  One  curious  fact  with 
regard  to  these  Fables  may  be  mentioned  to  show  their 
popularity  :  it  has  happened  that  two  and  even  three 
editions  have  appeared  in  one  year,  the  work  being  pro- 
duced simultaneously  in  London,  Dublin,  Edinburgh, 
Glasgow,  and  Paris.  The  first  edition  of  Gay's  Fables 
(First  Series)  appeared  in  1727,  and  subsequent  editions 
in  1728,  1729,  1733,  1736,  and  1737.  The  Second 
Series  was  published  after  Gay's  death,  in  1738,  and 
quickly  ran  through  several  editions.  The  first  issue  of 
the  combined  series  appears  to  have  been  in  1750,  and 
during  the  next  hundred  years  it  is  estimated  that  some 
sixty  or  seventy  editions  appeared.  The  most  note- 
worthy of  these  was  published  by  Stockdale  in  1793. 
It  is  printed  in  large  type  and  contains  a  fine  series  of 
plates  by  Blake,  Lovegrove,  W.  Skelton,  "Wilson,  Grainger, 
Audinet,  Cook,  and  Mazell.  Those  by  Blake  are  especially 
admired,  and  render  the  edition,  which  is  a  scarce  one, 
of  peculiar  value.  It  is  curious  to  note  that  in  the  same 
year  another  large  type  edition  appeared  (a  copy  of  which 
is  in  our  collection)  that  does  not  appear  to  be  known  to 
collectors.  The  plates  are  almost  uniform  with  those  in 
Stockdale's  edition,  but  of  much  inferior  merit,  and  being 
printed  in  oval,  two  on  a  page,  are  not  by  any  means  so 
effective.  Very  few  of  the  plates  in  this  edition  (published 
by  Darton  and  Harvey)  are  signed,  the  only  name  which 
appears  being  that  of  G.  Neagle.  The  engravers  of  the 
plates  in  the  earlier  editions  of  the  Fables  (First  Series) 
were  G.  Van  der  Gucht,  P.  Fourdrinier,  and  others,  the 
drawings  being  furnished  by  I.  Wootton  and  W.  Kent. 
These  plates  stand  at  the  head  of  every  fable,  and 
are  of  uniform  size,  occupying  half  a  page  only;  but 
in  the  Second  Series  the  plates  are  published  separately. 


The   engraver   of    the    latter   was   G.    Scotin,    and   the 
delineator,  H.  Gravelot. 

These  plates  appear  to  have  been  used  in  all  sub- 
sequent editions  up  to,  and  including  that  of  1757. 
After  this  date  came  many  inferior  editions,  but  none 
worthy  of  particular  notice,  save  those  illustrated  by 
Thomas  Bewick,  first  published  in  1779,  and  repeated  in 
several  subsequent  editions. 

Of  course,  many  inferior  and  badly  printed  editions 
have  been  published,  from  time  to  time,  without  any  cuts 
at  all,  and  others  have  been  used  as  vehicles  for  instruction, 
notably  those  edited  by  the  Eev.  W.  Coxe,  to  which 
voluminous  explanatory  notes  are  appended,  as  well  as 
a  full  and  critical  biography. 

Passing  over  the  various  editions  issued  for  the  press 
by  the  present  publisher,  we  may  note  that  the  last  which 
appeared  was  that  of  1882,  edited  by  Mr.  Austin  Dobson. 
We  give  in  another  part  some  fuller  notes  respecting 
this  and  other  editions,  our  present  purpose  being  merely 
to  point  out  a  few  of  the  interesting  features  of  the  more 
noteworthy  volumes,  by  way  of  a  hint  to  collectors  in 
their  search  for  the  best  editions  of  our  author.  It  will 
be  noticed  that  we  have  not  attempted  to  follow  the  usual 
bibliographical  rules  as  regards  size,  style,  pagination, 
and  so  forth,  which  would  have  been  done  had  this 
volume  been  meant  for  the  use  of  persons  solely  in- 
terested in  bibliography,  instead  of  for  the  delectation  of 
the  "  courteous  reader." 


FABLES.    By  Mr.  GAY.    Printed  for  J.  Tonson  and 

J.  Watts.  London      1727 

The  frontispiece  has  an  engraving  of  a  Mask.  8vo. 
Title,  and  Dedication  to  the  Duke  of  Cumberland  by 
John  Gay,  2  leaves.  Table,  2  leaves.  Poetical  Intro- 
duction, 3  leaves.  Pp.  194.  The  Vol.  contains  50 
Fables,  each  with  an  engraving  at  the  head,  on  the 
same  leaf  as  the  letterpress.  Engravings  by  Four- 
drinier,  Van  der  Gucht,  and  others. 

FABLES.     By  Mr.  GAY.     The  Second  Edition.  1728 

FABLES.     By  JOHN  GAY.     The  Third  Edition. 

London      1729 

FABLES.  By  the  late  Mr.  GAY.  The  Fourth  Edition. 

Same.  London      1733 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.  Amsterdam     1734 

FABLES,  in  One  Volume,  Complete.  London     1736 

Portrait  and  Epitaph  on  Frontispiece.  A  mask  on 
title.  Engraving  to  each  Fable.  Life  by  Dr.  Johnson 
at  end  of  volume. 

FABLES.    By  the  late  Mr.  GAY.     The  Fifth  Edition. 

(Same.)  London      1737 

FABLES.    By  the  late  Mr.  GAY.    Volume  the  Second. 

London      1738 

Printed  for  J.  and  P.  Knapton,  etc.     Frontispiece, 
Monument  with  Epitaph.     Portrait  on  Title.    Sixteen 
Fables,  with  full-page  Illustrations  by  Gravelot. 

300  GAY'S  FABLES. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.     Second  Series.     Second 

FABLES.    By  the  late  Mr.  GAY.    The  Sixth  Edition. 

(Same.)  London      1746 

FABLES.    By  the  late  Mr.  GAY.    Volume  the  Second. 

The  Third  Edition.     (Same.)  London      1747 

FABLES,  IN   Two   PARTS.      By  the  Jate  Mr.  GAY. 

Printed  in  the  year      1750 

No  printer's  name  or  place  of  publication.    No  en- 
graving of  any  kind. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.  Glasgow     1750 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.  1751 

FABLES,  IN  Two  PARTS.    Printed  by  Robert  Urie, 

for  J.  Gilmour.  Glasgow      1752 

Mask  on  title  and  vignette  to  each  Fable. 

FABLES.      Printed    for    Alexander     McKenzie. 


No  date ;  no  printer's  name ;  but  probably  by  Urie 
or  Foulis. 

FABLES.    By  Mr.  GAY.    Seventh  Edition.      London     1753 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    Two  Vols.  London  1753.5 

In  large  type,  and  illustrated  with  upwards  of  Sixty 
spirited  engravings,  by  Van  der  Gucht,  Scotin,  etc. 

FABLES.    By  Mr.  GAY.  London     1754 

No  printer's  name.  Portrait  on  Frontispiece,  and 
tail -piece  showing  interior  of  printing  office  at  the  end 
of  Volume  ;  but  no  other  illustrations. 

FABLES.  London     1754 

Vignette  of  printing  press,  and  printers  at  work  on 
title,  and  repeated  on  last  page,  but  no  other  engraving. 



FABLES  (GAY'S).     Printed    for    B.    Creak.    Thirty 

Fables,  each  illustrated.     London,  no  date,  but  previous  to    [1755] 

Epitomiz'd  with  Short  Poems  applicable  to  each 
occasion,  extracted  from  the  most  celebrated  Moralists, 
antient  and  modern,  for  the  use  of  Schools.  [Dedica- 
tion signed  D.  Bellamy.] 

FABLES.    By  the  late  Mr.  GAY.     In  two  Volumes 

(two  in  one).     8vo.     C.  Hitch,  and  others  London.       1757 

Monument  on  frontispiece.  Vignette  portrait  on 
Title.  Illustrations  to  each  Fable  by  G.  Van  der 
Gucht,  and  others. 

FABLES  IN  Two  PARTS.    Printed  for  0.  Hitch  and 

others.     Another  Edition.  London      1757 

Vignette  portrait  on  title  page. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.      Printed  for   J.  James, 

in  New  Bond  Street  London      1758 

Portrait  on  frontispiece.    No  other  illustration. 

FABLES  DE  M.  GAY.  Suivies  du  Poe'me  de  1'Eventail. 
Le  tout  traduit  de  1'Anglois.  Par  Madame  De  Keralio.  A 
Londres,  et  se  trouvent  a  Paris,  chez  Duchesne,  Libraire, 
rue  Saint  Jacques,  au  Temple  du  Gout.  1759 

This  translation  is  in  prose. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.  Dublin     1760 

FABLES,  IN  Two  PARTS.     Printed  by  Robert  and 

Andrew  Foulis.  Glasgow      1761 

Wrote  for  the  amusement  of  His  Royal  Highness 
William  Duke  of  Cumberland. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.  Glasgow     1762 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    Printed  for  C.  Hitch  and 

others.  London      1762 

Frontispiece.  A  Mask.  Vignette  portrait  on  title. 
Full  page  illustrations  to  Fables. 

302  GAY'S  FABLES. 


FABLES.  London     1763 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    Printed  by  A.  Donaldson 

and  J.  Reid.  Edinburgh      1764 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.  Newcastle-on-Tyne     1765 

FABLES.     Printed  for  J.  James.  London      1766 

Portrait  on  frontispiece  half  length  in  oval,  "  Gay  "  at 
top;  below,  "In  Witt  a  Man,  Simplicity  a  Child." 
J.  Jameson,  Sculp.  No  other  engraving.  Although 
paging  is  similar  to  edition  of  1754,  the  type  is  of  a  new 
setting,  and  the  type  ornaments  are  different. 

FABLES.    Le  Nuovo  favole  di  G.  G.    Tradotte  dall' 

originale  Inglese  (by  G.  F.  Giorgetti).  Venezia      1767 

FABLES.     Printed  for  W.  Strahan.  London     1769 

Frontispiece,  engraving  of  mask,  etc.,  surmounted 
by  halo.  Sixty-seven  illustrations  to  the  Fables.  None 
of  them  bear  the  name  of  the  designer  or  engraver. 
Many  of  them  are  fae-similes  of  those  that  afterwards 
appeared  in  Stockdale's  Edition  of  1793. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.     Printed  and  sold  by  M. 
Luckman.    No  date,  but  entered  in  B.  M.  Catalogue  as  1770. 

Coventry   [1770] 
Frontispiece.    Illustrations  to  Fables. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.     (See  Poetical  Works  in 

Four  Vols.    Printed  by  James  Potts.)  Dublin      1770 

The  Fables  occupy  the  whole  of  VoL  4. 

FABLES.     By  the  late  Mr.  GAY.    Printed  for  Strahan 

and  others.  London      1772 

Frontispiece  of  Monument.  Illustrations  to  Fables 
printed  separately,  two  on  a  page. 

FABLES.     Another  Edition.  1772 

Without  Plates. 



FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.  Altenburgh     1772 

FABLES.     By  JOHN  GAY.     Printed  for  W.  Smith 

and  W.  Wilson.  Dublin  1772-3 

In  two  volumes  (the  Fourth  Edition),  roughly 
executed  cuts.  The  Second  Volume  bears  date  1772, 
it  was  probably  issued  with  a  new  title  in  the  following 
year,  as  the  title  to  the  new  Volumes  bears  the  later 



FABLES.     By  JOHN  GAY.    (See  Poems,  etc.,  British 

Poets,  Vol.  XXX.)  Edinburgh      1773 

FABLES  OF  Mr.  JOHN  GAY.    With  an  Italian  Trans- 
lation by  Gian  Francesco  Giorgetti.    Printed  for  T.  Davies. 

London      1773 
With  a  preface.     No  illustrations. 

FABLES.     By  JOHN  GAY.  London     1775 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    (See  Poetical  Works,  in 
Three  Vols. )    At  the  Apollo  Press,  by  the  Martins. 

Edinburgh,  Anno      1777 
Fables  occupy  the  whole  of  Vol.  3. 

FABLES.  Fabulae  selectse  auctore  JOHANNE  GAY.  Latine 
redditae  (in  Verse)  Lat.  and  Eng.     By  C.  Anstey. 
J.  Dodsley.  Londini      1777 

No  engravings. 

FABLES,  IN  Two  PARTS.     [No  printer.]      Sold  by 

J.  James  and  others.  London      1777 

Not  illustrated. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    In  One  Volume  complete. 

Printed  for  J.  Buckland  and  others.  London      1778 

No  illustrations. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.  Newcastle     1779 

304  GAY'S  FABLES. 

FABLES.  By  JOHN  GAY.  (See  Works  of  the  English 
Poets.  With  Prefaces  by  SamuelJolinson. )  Printed  by 
J.  Nichols.  London  1779 

The  Fables     e  in  VoL  2,  pp.  25-197. 

FABLES.  Paris     1782 

FABLES.    By  the  late  Mr.  GAT.     In  One  Volume. 

Complete.    Printed  and  sold  by  S.  Harward         Glo'cester      1783 
This  edition  has  no  plates. 

FABLES.  By  the  late  Mr.  GAY.  In  One  Volume  com- 
plete. Buckland,  Strahan,  etc.  London  1783 

Mask,  Frontispiece.    Illustrations  on  separate  pages, 
two  on  each  page. 

FABLES.    By  the  late  Mr.  GAY.   In  one  Volume  com- 
plete. London     1785 
(Same  as  last.) 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.     Printed  for  Buckland, 

Rivington,  and  others.  London      1788 

Contains  66  cuts  by  Thomas  Bewick. 

FABLES.    By  the  late  Mr.  GAY.   In  one  Volume  com- 
plete.   Printed  for  Rivington  and  others.  London      1792 
Mask  on  frontispiece,  with  cuts  to  each  Fable. 

FABLES.    BY  JOHN  GAY.    Printed  for  W.  Osborne 

and  others.  London      1792 

Portrait  on  title  with  epitaph,  and  illustrations  to 
each  Fable. 

FABLES.     By  JOHN  GAY.     Printed  by  John  Bell. 

Complete  in  One  Volume.  London      1793 

FABLES.  By  JOHN  GAY.  With  a  Life  of  the  Author, 
and  embellished  with  70  plates.  Engraving.  Two  Volumes. 
Royal  8vo.  Printed  for  John  Stockdale,  Piccadlily. 

London      1793 



Vol.  1.— Engraving  on  title  page,  a  mask  surmounted 
by  halo,  "Brown,  Sculpt."  xi,  dedication  and  con- 
tents ;  225,  Fables.  Fifty  plates,  on  single  pages,  by 
Blake,  W.  Skelton,  P.  Mazell,  Audinet,  Wilson, 
and  Lovegrove 

Vol.  IT.— Engraving  on  title  page,  bust  of  the  poet 
in  bas-relief,  surmounted  by  symbols  of  music  and 
poetry.  "  J.  Hall,  direxit."  vii,  advt.  and  contents — 
187  (1—160,  Fables ;  163—175,  Life ;  177—187,  List 
of  Subscribers).  Eighteen  plates.  (Engraved  title  to 
each  Vol.  would  make  up  the  number  to  70. )  The  en- 
graving to  the  "  Life "  apparently  represents  Gay's 
tomb  in  Westminster  Abbey,  with  Pope's  epitaph. 
"Wilson,  Sculpt." 

The  Fable  "Aye  and  No  "  appears  in  this  Edition. 

FABLES.  By  JOHN  GAY.  With  a  Life  of  the  Author, 
and  embellished  with  a  plate  to  each  Fable.  Printed  by 
Dartou  and  Harvey  for  Rivington  and  others.  London  1793 

This  is  a  fine  large  type  edition,  the  plates  in  which 
differ  but  slightly  from  the  preceding,  although  they 
do  not  bear  any  engraver's  name.  The  plates  are  two 
on  a  page,  whereas  Stockdale's  are  single  plates. 

FABLES.      Les    Animaux    offrant    leurs    services  a 

1'Homme.     Fable  imitee  de  Gay.     Prelong.  1793 

FABLES.  London     1795 

FABLES,     E.  Newbery.  London     17£6 

Frontispiece  and  numerous  woodcuts  by  Thomas 
Bewick,  different  from  those  by  John  Bewick.  First 
edition  with  these  cuts. 

FABLES.  By  JOHN  GAY.  Illustrated,  with  Notes 
and  the  Life  of  the  Author,  by  W.  Ccxe,  Rector  of  Bemerton. 

Salisbury      1796 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    (See  Poems,  etc.) 

Manchester     1797 

306  GAY'S  FABLES. 


FABLES.  York     1797 

FABLES.    See  Columbian  Library,  VoL  II.  New  York     1797 

FABLES.    Interprete  C.  Anstey. 

Londini  et  Bathonice      1798 

FABLES.    Printed  by  Luckman  and  Suffield.   Sold  by 

Brooke  and  Macklin,  and  others,  London.  Coventry      1798 

No  engravings. 

FABLES.  Illustrated,  with  Notes  and  Life  of  the 
Author,  by  William  Coxe,  Eector  of  Bemerton.  Printed 
and  sold  by  J.  Easton,  etc.  Salisbury  1798 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.  In  Two  Volumes.  Printed 

by  Pat  Wogan.    The  Fifth  Edition.  Dublin      1799 

Bough  cuts  to  each  Fable. 

FABLES.  By  JOHN  GAY.  Illustrated,  with  Notes, 
Historical  and  Explanatory,  by  William  Coxe,  A.M.,  etc. 
A  new  Edition,  with  emblematical  frontispiece. 

London  and  Salisbury    [1800] 

FABLES.     By  JOHN  GAY.      Printed  by  P.  Didot, 

the  Elder,  Paris      1800 

To  which  are  added    Fables    by  Edward  Moore. 
Gay's  contain  both  series  of  Fables. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    Whittingham.       London     1801 

Frontispiece,  a  mask ;  eagle  on  title.    Vignette  to 
each  Fable. 

LE  FABLIER  ANGLAIS.  Fables  choisies  de  JEAN 
GAY.  Moore,  Wilkie,  etc. ;  traduites  en  Francais,  avec  le 
Texte  Anglais,  etc.  Par  M.  A.  Amar  du  Ilivier.  De 
Guilleminet.  Paris  1802 

Short  life  of  Gay,    Portrait  on  front.    Fifty  Fables. 


FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.  Paris    ^1802 

Contains  also  Moore's  Fables,  and  Gray's  "  Elegy." 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.  Chester     1802 

FABLES.  London     1805 

FABLES.    A  New  Edition.     Printed  at  the  Minerva 

Press,  for  Lane,  Newman  &  Co.  London      1806 

Engraving  of  "  The  Lady  and  the  Wasp  "  as  frontis- 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.     Printed  by  Savage  and 

Easingwood.  London      1806 

Illustrations  to  each  Fable.  Style  of  Bewick. 
Woodcut  of  flying  eagle  on  title ;  mask  on  frontispiece, 
no  engraver's  name. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.  York     1806 

Cuts  by  Bewick. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    C.  Whittingham.    London     1808 

With  Life.  Portrait  on  title.  Illustrations  to  each 

FABLES.    Another  Edition.  London     1808 


FABLES.      By  JOHN  GAY.     Illustrated.      Edited  by 
William  Coxe,  A.M.,   etc.,  Rector  of  Bemerton.    Fourth 
Edition.    Printed  for  Vernon,  Hood,  and  Sharpe.     London      1810 
Allegorical  frontispiece,  representing  Simplicity. 

FABLES.  By  the  late  Mr.  GAY.  In  One  Volume. 
Complete.  Two  figures  of  Flying  Eagle.  Printed  by 
J.  M'Creery,  Black-Horse-court,  forF.  C.  and  J.  Riving- 
ton,  J.  Walker,  etc.,  etc,,  etc.  London  1810 



This  is  a  fac-simile  reprint  of  Savage  and  Easing- 
wood's  Edition  of  1806 — not  a  re-issue,  but  a  reprint — 
page  for  page ;  the  catchwords  are  the  same  ;  but 
there  are  three  points  of  difference : — 

1.  Savage  and  Easingwood's  edition  terminates  at 
p.    224,  M'Creery 's  at  p.  222;  this  is  due  to  the 
former  having  an  additional  leaf  between  the  two 
parts,  and  which  is  paged. 

2.  Savage  and  Easingwood's  has  on  p.  224,  "  Savage 
and     Easingwood,     Printers,     Bedford    Bury." 
There  is  no  imprint  on  that  of  M'Creery. 

3.  The  latter  has  a  Table  of  Contents  of  two  pages, 
not    paged,    and    at   the    base    of   the    second, 
"  J.  M'Creery,  Printer,  Black-Horse-court,  Fleet- 
street,  London." 

All  the  woodcuts  of  the  1806  Edition  are  included 
in  that  of  1810. 

FABLES  DB  GAY.     Traduites  en  vers  Frangais,  avec 

gravures.     Chez  Ancelle,  Libraire,  etc.  Paris      1811 

Portrait,  frontispiece  \  Life ;  seven  illustrations. 
First  series  of  fifty  Fables  only. 

FABLES.     Printed  by  Huffy  and  Evans,  and  sold  by 

Dartojn  &  Co.  London      1811 

Embellished  with  100  engravings  on  wood,  designed 
and  executed  by  Branston. 

FABLES.     (See  the  Poetical  Works  of  JOHN  GAY. 

Suttaby,  Evans  &  Co. )  London      1811 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.     Cliiswick  Press.  1312 

Life  by  Dr.  Johnson.  Illustrations  to  each  Fable. 
Pretty  vignette  on  title.  Appropriate  tail -pieces.  Style 
of  Bewick. 

FABLES.  London     1813 

FABLES.  Havant     1816 



FABLES.     By  the  late  Mr.  GAY.     In  One  Vol.  com- 
plete.    Printed  by  J.  M'Creery,  for  Rivington  and  others. 

London      1816 
Front. ,  mask ;  illustrations  to  each  Fable. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.     Printed  by  T.  Davidson. 

London      1816 
With  Life  ;  portrait  on  title  ;  70  engravings. 

FABLES.    Printed  for  W.  Simpkin  and  R.  Marshall. 

London      1819 
Has  an  excellent  portrait  as  frontispiece. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.   Printed  at  Chiswick  Press.      1820 

"With  Life,  by  Dr.  Johnson,  and  upwards  of  100  illus- 

FABLES.  London     1820 

FABLES.    See  Beauties  of  ^Esop.     A  collection  of 

Fables  selected  from  ^Esop,  Gay,  etc.  London      1822 

parts,  selected  and  revised  by  J.  Plumptre,  with  a  preface. 
Thomas  Lovell.  (Second  Edition. )  Huntingdon  1823 

Contains  46  Fables  only. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    Jones  &  Co.         London     1824 

(Diamond  Poets.)  Biographical  Sketch,  by  Dr. 
Johnson  ;  portrait.  Contains  also  "  Rural  Sports," 
"The  Fan,"  "Shepherd's  Week,"  "Trivia"  and 


London      1825 

Drawn  and  etched  by  the  late  Charles  Muss,  Enamel 
Painter  to  His  Majesty.  Published  for  the  benefit  of 
the  widow  and  family.  No  letterpress. 

310  GAY'S  FABLES. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    Printed  by  J.  F.  Dove. 

(Dove's  English  Classics.)  London      1826 

(The  Volume  contains  also  Cotton's  "Visions,"  in 
verse;  Moore's  "Fables  for  the  Female  Sex,"  with 
Sketches  of  the  Author's  Lines.)  Includes  Fables, 
"Rural  Sports,"  "The  Fan,"  "Shepherd's  Week," 
"Trivia,"  and  Ballads. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    Chiswick  Press.     London,     1828 
Life  by  Dr.  Johnson.    One  hundred  illustrations. 

FABLES.  By  JOHN  GAY.  See  "Flowers  of  Fable," 
culled  from  Epictetus,  Croxall,  Gay,  Moore,  La  Fontaine, 
and  others.  Vizetelly.  London  1832 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    Longman  and  others. 

London      1834 
Mask  on  frontispiece.    Each  Fable  illustrated. 

FABLES.  By  JOHN  GAY.  With  translations  into 
Uran  Poetry.  By  Raja  Kali  [Krishna  Badahur.  English 
and  Hindustani.  Calcutta  1836 

FABLES.  By  JOHN  GAY.  With  translation  into 
Bengali  Poetry.  By  Raja  Kali  Krishna  Badahur.  In 
English  and  Bengali.  Calcutta  1836 

esteemed  European  and  Oriental  Authors.  With  an  Intro- 
ductory Dissertation  on  the  History  of  Fable,  comprising 
Biographical  Notices  of  the  most  eminent  Fabulists.  By 
G.  Moir  Bussey.  Charles  Tilt.  London  1839 

Illustrated  by  numerous  engravings,  designed  by 
J.  J.  Grand ville.  Gay  is  well  represented  in  this  large 
and  interesting  collection. 

FABLES.    With  Elucidations  by  Archdeacon  Coxe.         1841 
Sixty-eight  woodcuts. 



FABLES.  AlnwicJc     1842 

FABLES.    (Phonetic  Edition.)    Lunclim.  Bath     1849 

FABLES,  AND  OTHER  POEMS.     (See    British    Poets, 

Cabinet  Edition.)    Vol.  II.  London      1851 

FABLES  DE  GAY.    Whittaker.  London     1853 

Traduites  en  vers  Francais  par  Le  Chevalier  de 
Chatelain.  English  and  French.  Contains  only  50 
Fables,  comprising  First  Series.  Dedicated  to  the 
Duke  of  Wellington. 

FABLES.  London     1854 

FABLES  CHOISIES.  Paris     1854 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    Routled  London     1854 

With  Memoir,  introduction,  and  annotations  by 
0.  F.  Owen,  with  126  drawings  by  W.  Harvey,  etc., 
Engraved  by  the  Brothers  Dalziel.  Portrait,  frontis- 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    (See  Poetical  Works.)    In 

Two  Volumes.  Boston      1854 

FABLES.  London     1855 

FABLES  DE  GAY.    Whittaker.  London     1855 

Traduites  en  vers  Fran£ais  par  Le  Chevalier  de  Chate- 
lain. Fifty  Fables  only.  Dedicated  "A  La  Presse 
Anglaise."  No  plates. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    Routledge.  London     1857 

Owen's  Second  Edition. 

312  GAY'S  FABLES. 


FABLES.  Troisieme  Edition  complete,  et  pre'ce'de'e 
d'une  preface  nouvelle,  et  suivie  de  Beaut^s  de  la  Po6sie 
Anglaise.  Londres  1857 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    James  Nichol.  Edinburgh     1859 

With  Memoir  and  Critical  Dissertation,  by  the  Rev. 
George  Gilfillan.  The  Volume  contains  also  Addison's 
Works,  and  Somerville's  ' '  Chase. "  (One  of  the  volumes 
of  Nichol's  Edition  of  the  British  Poets.) 

FABLES.   (Owen's  Third  Edition.)  Routledge.  London  i860 

FABLES.    (Owen's  Edition.)                              London  1861 

FABLES.    (4eme  Edition.)                                 Londres  1861 

FABLES.    Juvenile  Poetry.                                  Paris  1863 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    (See  Poetical  Works.    In 

TwoVols.     Little,  Brown  and  Company.)  Boston      1863 

Fables  in  Vol.  2,  pp.  3-182. 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    (See  Poetical  Works.    In 

TwoVols.)  Boston      1864 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    F.  Warne.  London     1866' 

(Owen's  Edition.) 

FABLES.    By  JOHN  GAY.    F.  Warne  &  Co.    London   [«l870j 

With  Memoir,  Introduction,  and  Annotations,  by 
Octavius  Freire  Owen,  M.A.,  F.S.A.  Illustrated  by 
William  Harvey.  Portrait  on  frontispiece.  (Messrs. 
Warne's  last  Edition.) 

FABLES.  By  JOHN  GAY,  somewhat  altered  by  John 
Benson  Rose.  Printed  for  private  circulation  by  W. 
Clowes  &  Sons.  London  1871 

Contains  also  a  selection  of  other  poems  and  fables. 



FABLES.  London     1875 

Contains  also  the  Poetical  Works  of  Addison,  etc. 


use  of  Schools  in  India.      With  Notes.      Third  Edition. 

Pp.  viii— 100.    Sanskrit  Press  Repository.  Calcutta      1880 

FABLES.      By    JOHN    GAY.     Kegan    Paul   &   Co. 

London      1882 

With  a  Memoir  and  Bibliographical  Note,  by  Austin 
Dobson.  Portrait  from  a  sketch  in  oils  by  Sir  Godfrey 
Kneller.  No  other  illustrations. 

***  NOTE. — In  addition  to  the  above,  various  editions  of  Gay's 
Poetical  Works  have  been  published  containing  the  Fables, 
which  are  not  here  enumerated,  and  selections  from  the 
Fables  have  appeared  in  many  collections  of  poetry;  they 
have  also  been  parodied  by  other  writers.  But  the  above  list 
contains  nearly  all  the  editions.  The  compiler  will  be  glad 
to  receive  corrections  and  additions. — W.  H.  K.  W. 












Isaac    D'lsraeli's    Works.    With  Notes,  &c.,  by  the  late  EARL 

OF  BEACONSFIELD.     In  crown  8vo,  Six  Volumes,  cloth  gilt    .  30    0 

Comprising — 

The    Curiosities    of  Literature.    Three  Volumes. 
The    Literary    Character   of    Men    of  Genius. 
The  Calamities  and  Quarrels  of  Authors. 
The    Amenities    of   Literature. 


The  Abbeys,  Castles,  and  Ancient  Halls  of  England  and 
Wales.  Compiled  and  Edited  by  JOHN  TIMES  and  ALEXANDER 
GTJNN.     In  Three  Yolumes,  with  Twelve  Photographs. 
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GAY,  JOHN,  1685-1732. 

BCC-4450  (AWAB)